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My life with 

Edited and with an introduction by M. Thomas Inge 

My Life with Charlie !3rown 



My Life with Charlie Brown 
Designed by Todd Lape 

The University Press of Mississippi is a member 
of the Association of American University Presses. 

Copyright © 2010 by Schulz Family Intellectual Property 
Trust. All rights reserved. 

PEANUTS © United Feature Syndicate, Inc. 

PEANUTS is a registered trademark of United Feature 
Syndicate, Inc. All rights reserved. 

All illustrations by Charles M. Schulz, PEANUTS © 
United Feature Syndicate, Inc. 

Manufactured in the United States of America 

First printing 2010 

Library of Congress Cataloging-in-Publication Data 

Schulz, Charles M. (Charles Monroe), 1922-2000. 

My life with Charlie Brown / Charles M. Schulz ; edited 
and with an introduction by M. Thomas Inge, 
p. cm. 

Includes index. 

ISBN 978-1-60173-447-8 (alk paper) 

1. Schulz, Charles M. (Charles Monroe), 1922-2000. 

2. Cartoonists — United States — Biography. 3. Schulz, 
Charles M. (Charles Monroe), 1922-2000. Bsanuts. 

I. Inge, M. Thomas. II. Title. 

PN6727S3Z46 20V 

[B 22] 200903336 

British Library Cataloging-in-Publication Data available 

On behalf of Sparky 
this book is dedicated to 

his wife, Jeannie 

and his children 







This page intentionally left blank 


ix Introduction 
xv Chronology 


3 My Life and Art with Charlie Brown and Others 

20 Peanuts as Profession of Faith 

26 Commencement Address at Saint Mary’s College 

32 Charles Schulz and Peanuts 

37 The Christmas That Almost Got Stolen 

41 Snoopy’s Senior World Hockey Tournament 

46 I’ll Be Back in Time for Lunch 

51 The Fan: Baseball Is Life, I’m Afraid 

57 Comic Inspiration 

60 Don’t Grow Up 

67 My Shot: Good Grief! 

69 A Morning Routine 

71 Questions about Reading That Children Frequently Ask 


77 Developing a Comic Strip 

85 Peanuts — How It All Began 

89 Creativity 
104 A Career in Cartooning 

111 Why 100 Million of Us (GASP!) Read the Comics 



1 16 Happiness Is a Lot of Assignments 
123 On Staying Power 

126 Address to the National Cartoonists Society Convention 
141 Pleasures of the Chalk-Talk 


147 The Theme of Peanuts 

164 But a Comic Strip Has to Grow 

171 What Do You Do with a Dog That Doesn’t Talk? 


181 Pale Horse, Pale Rider by Katherine Anne Porter 
187 A Poem for Jeannie 

189 Index 


Charles Monroe Schulz, better known as “Sparky” among his fam- 
ily and friends, was twentieth-century America’s favorite and most 
highly respected cartoonist. His comic strip, Peanuts, appeared daily 
in over two thousand newspapers in the United States and abroad 
in a multiplicity of languages. Compilations of the strips sold in mil- 
lions of copies during his lifetime and often topped best seller lists, 
and more recently a series of volumes collecting the complete run of 
Peanuts appeared in the New York Times listings. 

Thousands of toy and gift items bore and continue to bear the 
likenesses of Charlie Brown, Lucy, Snoopy, and the other characters 
who populate their world. A stage musical based on Peanuts — You’re 
a Good Man Charlie Brown — has remained one of the most frequently 
performed shows in American theatrical history, and 
several award-winning animated television spe- 
cials continue to be shown annually and sold 
in DVD. Even today, almost a decade after 
the untimely death of Schulz on February 
12, 2000, classic Peanuts reprints continue 
to hold their own space in major newspapers 
throughout the United States and in other 

While sometimes bewildered by the enor- 
mous influence of the characters of his creation 
on American culture in general, Schulz held to 



a principle of integrity in the comic strip itself. Beginning with the 
first strip published on October 2, 1950, until the last published on 
Sunday, February 13, 2000, the day after his death, Schulz wrote, 
penciled, inked, and lettered by hand every single one of the daily 
and Sunday strips to leave his studio, 17,897 in all for an almost fifty- 
year run. No other single cartoonist has matched this achievement, 
but that is not what remains important about Peanuts. 

While cultural mavens have seldom granted the lowly comic strip 
aesthetic value, Schulz moved his feature in an artistic direction that 
was minimalist in style but richly suggestive in content. Any piece 
of art that endures, no matter the form or medium, draws on the 
cumulative traditions that have preceded it, and in turn reshapes 
and reinvigorates those traditions with new life and relevance for 
the future. Schulz did exactly that in Peanuts. His comic strip drew 
on a rich history of creative accomplishments in graphic humor and 
comic art and ultimately revived the comic strip as a relevant form 
that spoke to readers for the remainder of the twentieth century. He 
demonstrated its versatility in dealing with the social, psychological, 
and philosophical tensions of the modern world. 

Charlie Brown and his friends were preoccupied with what has 
possessed and continued to obsess all of us — the relationship of the 
self to society, the need to establish our separate identities, anxi- 
ety over our neurotic behavior, and an overwhelming desire to gain 
control of our destinies. Charlie Brown appeals to us because of his 
resilience, his ability to confront and humanize the impersonal forces 
around him, and his unwavering faith in his ability to improve him- 
self and his options in life. In his insecurities and defeats, his affir- 
mations and small victories, Charlie is someone with whom we can 
identify. Through him we can all experience a revival of the spirit and 
a healing of the psyche. This has been Charles Schulz’s amazing gift 
to the world through his small drawings appearing daily in the buried 
pages of the comic section of the newspaper. He was for the second 
half of the twentieth century our major pop philosopher, therapist, 
and theologian, and unlike Lucy’s booth, his shingle was always up. 



In addition to his finely honed skills as a graphic artist, Schulz 
was also adept with the written word. Although he never fancied 
himself as a writer, and would normally rely on the cartoon image 
in conjunction with the word to convey his meaning, when given the 
opportunity, he produced a clear and straightforward prose that was 
admirable in its style and simplicity. He was frequently asked to give 
a talk or speech, produce an article for a magazine or newspaper, 
write an autobiographical essay for one of his anthologies, or com- 
ment on his chosen profession as a cartoonist. When he did so, the 
outcome was more often than not insightful and engaging in quality, 
and probably more revealing than anything anyone else has written 
about him and his work. 

Schulz’s major prose writings, both published and unpublished, 
have been gathered in this volume. Here the reader will learn, directly 
from the man himself, the facts of his early life and the development 
of his career. Here he talks about a wide variety of topics: the sources 
of his creativity and inspiration, how Peanuts came to be, the mean- 
ing of each character in the strip, his daily routine, how to do a chalk 
talk, how to achieve a career in cartooning, and the importance of 
his work in animation and television. There is a good deal here, as 
well, on a personal note: his work ethic, his philosophic attitude, and 
his religious beliefs which changed over time, until he would eventu- 
ally call himself a “secular humanist.” His theories of humor emerge 
as well, as in his essay “On Staying Power”: 

If you are a person who looks at the funny side of things, 
then sometimes when you are lowest, when everything seems 
totally hopeless, you will come up with some of your best ideas. 
Happiness does not create humor. There’s nothing funny about 
being happy. Sadness creates humor. 

Despite the obvious depth of thought and maturity of attitude 
in Peanuts, Schulz did not consider himself an intellectual. Although 
he finished high school, he was largely a self-educated man who read 



widely and deeply in the great ideas and literature of the world. He 
was surprised when critics and college professors expressed interest 
in his work, but he held his own in conversations and interviews 
with them when they visited his studio to pay homage. He seemed 
to be regretful that he had not gone to college himself, and he greatly 
respected the academic and intellectual life. In the spring of 1965, 
Schulz signed up for a course in the novel at Santa Rosa Junior Col- 
lege under Professor Cott Hobart. As Schulz described the experi- 
ence in his essay “Don’t Give Up”: 

I took a college course in the novel a few years ago, and oddly 
enough I got an A in it. When I was a kid, I was a lousy student, 
the way Peppermint Patty is. I never knew what was going on, 
never did my homework, never did the reading assignments. 
This time I did all the reading and wrote a paper on Katherine 
Anne Porter’s book Pale Horse, Pale Rider. As I wrote it, I pre- 
tended I was writing for The New Yorker. Afterwards the profes- 
sor said to me, “I just want you to know that this is a perfect 
example of what a paper should be.” 

That essay appears in this collection for the first time in an appen- 
dix. Another unusual item included is a poem that Schulz wrote for 
his second wife Jeannie, she believes around 1980. This is the only 
poem found among his literary remains. 

Not included are the numerous prefaces, introductions, jacket 
blurbs, and brief comments he obligingly wrote for fellow cartoon- 
ists and friends in their published books. His papers also include 
notes and comments that did not find their way into his completed 
essays. Here are two examples: 

One of the most disturbing elements in today’s living is what 
most of us describe as the average workman’s lack of pride in 
craftsmanship. We are surrounded with luxury, and yet con- 
stantly outraged by breakdowns in things we have purchased. 

If there were but one bit of advice I could give to a young 



person, it would be to learn to do at least one task well. Follow- 
ing that, I would say also, don’t sell out to the baser elements 
of your profession. Do what you do on a high plain. I am proud 
to say that in a period when books dealing with every sort 
of perversion seem to be flooding the market, we sold over 
800,000 copies of Happiness Is a Warm Puppy, a book without 
guile, a book of innocence. If God has given you a talent, do 
not use it ungratefully. 

When I finish the last drawing of the day and drop the pencil 
in the tray, put down the pen and brush and put the top on the 
ink bottle, it always reminds me of the dentist when he puts his 
instruments down on the tray and reaches to turn off the light. 

One of them borders on the metaphysical: 

I remember the time we all went somewhere, but I don’t know 
where it was. We had a good time, but I don’t remember what 
we did, because it was a long time ago. 

The intent of this collection of Schulz’s essays is to round out the 
portrait of the man as he saw himself. His measure has been taken 
in several biographies, none of which seem satisfactory to those 
who remember the man and his work differently. That is the fate 
of all prominent people, especially in an age of celebrity. He speaks 
entirely for himself in these pieces, and the reader can experience to 
some degree directly the greatness of his mind and soul. 

Editorial changes have been minor, mainly correcting errors 
in spelling or grammar. The essays are given their published titles, 
although Schulz may not have been the source. Unpublished essays 
have been given titles by the editor. Original place of publication is 
noted after each item. 

The editor wishes to thank Jeannie Schulz for encouraging this 
project from the start. The task would have been more difficult with- 
out the thoughtful assistance of the staff at the Charles M. Schulz 



Museum and Research Center at Santa Rosa, California, Karen 
Johnson, Director. Knowing Schulz himself gave me a special advan- 
tage, and I remain grateful for his friendship. The help of my student 
research assistant at Randolph-Macon College, Rachelle Phillips, 
has been invaluable. A Mednick Memorial Fellowship awarded by 
the Virginia Foundation for Independent Colleges made an essential 
research trip possible. President Robert R. Lindgren and the admin- 
istration at Randolph-Macon College continue to provide a support- 
ive and enthusiastic working environment. As always and not least, 
with Donaria, all things are possible. 

— M. ThoMaS INge 

March 2009 


1922 Charles Monroe Schulz, the only child of German born bar- 
ber Carl Schulz and his wife Dena Halverson Schulz, is born 
on November 26 in Flat No. 2 at 919 Chicago Avenue, South 
in Minneapolis, Minnesota. An uncle nicknames Charles 
“Sparky” after the horse Sparkplug in the comic strip Bar- 
ney Google. 

1928 The family resides on James Avenue in St. Paul when Charles 
attended kindergarten at Mattocks School where a teacher 
encouraged his first drawings. 

1934 The Schulz family acquires a black and white mutt named 
Spike, later an inspiration for Snoopy. 

1936 The family resides at 473 Macalester Street in St. Paul when 
Charles entered St. Paul Central High School and worked as 
a caddie at Highland Park Golf Club. 

1937 Schulz’s first published drawing is a sketch of Spike con- 
tributed to the February 22 panel of the newspaper comics 
feature Believe It or Not by Robert Ripley. 

1940 Schulz graduates from high school, and although he con- 
tributes drawings to the senior yearbook, they are not 




1941 Schulz signs up for a correspondence course in cartooning 
offered by Federal Schools (later known as Art Instruction, 
Inc.) of Minneapolis. 

1943 Dena Schulz, his mother, dies of cancer. Drafted into the 
Army during World War II, Schulz serves with the Twenti- 
eth Armored Division in France and Germany as an infan- 
tryman, staff sergeant, and machine gunner. 

1945 Discharged by the Army, he returns to St. Paul, is hired to 
letter comic book pages for the Roman Catholic publication 
Timeless Topix, and becomes an instructor for Art Instruc- 
tion, Inc. Schulz lives with his father in an apartment above 
his barbershop on the corner of Snelling and Selby Avenues. 

1947 He begins to contribute a cartoon feature called Li’l Folks to 
the St. Paul Pioneer Press where it runs weekly for two years. 

1948 Schulz sells a panel cartoon to the Saturday Evening Post, 
where sixteen more of them would appear through 1950. 

1950 Assembling a group of his Li’l Folks cartoons, Schulz sends 
them to United Features Syndicate, who invites him to 
New York where he signs a contract to develop a comic 
strip. On October 2, the first Peanuts daily strip appears in 
seven newspapers. He lives at 552101iver Avenue, North in 

1951 Schulz marries Joyce Halverson (no relation to his moth- 
er’s family) on April 18, and they would have five children: 
Meredith, Charles Monroe (Monte), Craig, Amy, and Jill. 
His father Carl marries his second wife, Annabelle. Schulz 
moves his family to Colorado Springs, Colorado, but returns 
the following year to Minneapolis. 



1952 A Peanuts Sunday page begins on January 6, the strip 
appears in over 40 U.S. papers, and the first anthology, Pea- 
nuts, is published by Rinehart. 

1955 Schulz is awarded the profession’s highest honor, the Reu- 
ben (named after Rube Goldberg), by the National Cartoon- 
ists Society. 

1958 With Peanuts in 355U.S. papers and 40 foreign dailies, he is 
declared Humorist of the Year by Yale University. The Schulz 
family moves to 2162 Coffee Lane, Sebastopol, California. 

1960 The National Education Association gives Schulz the School 
Bell Award. The first Hallmark greeting cards featuring Pea- 
nuts characters are released. 

1962 Happiness Is a Warm Puppy by Schulz is published by Deter- 
mined Productions. The National Cartoonists Society 
names Peanuts the Best Humor Strip of the Year. 

1963 Anderson College in Anderson, Indiana, awards Schulz an 
honorary LHD degree. 

1964 Robert L. Short’s The Gospel According to Peanuts is pub- 
lished by John Knox Press. A second Reuben is awarded to 
Schulz by the National Cartoonists Society. 

1965 Peanuts appears on the front cover of the April 9 issue of 
Time magazine. A Charlie Brown Christmas, a television spe- 
cial, wins both Emmy and Peabody awards. 

1966 Schulz receives an honorary Doctor of Humane Letters 
degree from St. Mary’s College in Moraga, California. 
Carl, his father, dies from a heart attack while visiting in 



California from Minnesota. The Schulz family residence 
burns to the ground, as did Snoopy’s doghouse in Peanuts. 

1967 The Art Directors Club of New York awards Schulz a Cer- 
tificate of Merit. Peanuts appears on the cover of the 
March 17 issue of Life magazine. The musical You’re a Good 
Man, Charlie Brown opens off-Broadway on March 7 for a 
four-year run, and it would become the most frequently 
performed musical in American theatrical history. Gover- 
nor Ronald Reagan of California declares May 24 Charles 
Schulz Day. 

1968 Robert L. Short’s The Parables of Peanuts is published by 
John Knox Press. Snoopy is assigned to the Manned Flight 
Awareness Program. 

1969 The astronauts on Apollo X carry Snoopy and Charlie Brown 
into space with them. Peanuts appears on the cover of the 
April 12 issue of the Saturday Review. The Redwood Ice 
Arena in Santa Rosa, California, is built by his wife, Joyce, 
and opens on April 28. 

1970 Charlie Brown and Charlie Schulz by Lee Mendelson and 
Schulz is published by World Publishing Company. 

1971 June 17 is declared Peanuts Day in San Diego and Schulz is 
given the Key to the City. Snoopy publishes It Was a Dark 
and Stormy Night with Holt, Rinehart, and Winston. Pea- 
nuts appears on the cover of the December 27issue of News- 
week, and Snoopy joins the Holiday on Ice show. Peanuts 
appears in more than 1,100 newspapers reaching a daily 
reading audience of over 100 million people. 

1972 Schulz is divorced from Joyce Halverson. 



1973 Schulz marries Jean Forsyth (Jeannie) on September 23. He 
builds a studio complex at 1 Snoopy Place in Santa Rosa, 
California, adjacent to the Redwood Ice Arena. He receives 
the Big Brother of the Year Award. A Charlie Brown Thanks- 
giving, a television special, brings an Emmy Award to Schulz 
as the writer. 

1974 Schulz is named Grand Marshall of the Tournament of 
Roses Parade in Pasadena. 

1975 Peanuts appears in 1,480 newspapers in the U.S. and 
another 175 throughout the world. Peanuts Jubilee: My Life 
and Art with Charlie Brown and Othersby Schulz is published 
by Holt, Rinehart and Winston. You’re a Good Sport, Charlie 
Brown, a television special, wins an Emmy Award. 

1976 Happy Anniversary, Charlie Brown, a television special, wins 
an Emmy Award. 

1978 Schulz is named Cartoonist of the Year by the International 
Pavilion of Humor in Montreal. 

1979 Happy Birthday, Charlie Brown, by Lee Mendelson and 
Schulz is published by Ballantine Books. 

1980 Schulz himself receives the Charles M. Schulz Award from 
United Feature Syndicate for contributions to the field of 
cartooning. Charlie Brown, Snoopy, and Me by Schulz and 
R. Smith Kiliper is published by Doubleday. Life Is a Circus, 
Charlie Brown, a television special, receives an Emmy Award. 

1983 What Have We Learned, Charlie Brown?, a television spe- 
cial, wins a Peabody Award. Camp Snoopy opens at Knott’s 
Berry Farm in Buena Park, California. 



1984 Peanuts is sold to its 2,000th newspaper and achieves a 
place in the Guiness Book of World Records. 

1985 You Don’t Look 35, Charlie Brown by Schulz is published by 
Holt, Rinehart and Winston. The Oakland Museum in Cali- 
fornia opens an anniversary exhibition, The Graphic Art of 
Charles Schulz, and publishes the catalog. 

1986 He is inducted into the Cartoonist Hall of Fame by the 
Museum of Cartoon Art and given its “Golden Brick” award 
for lifetime achievement. 

1989 A biography, Good Grief: The Story of Charles M. Schulz by 
Rheta Grimsley Johnson, written with the cooperation of 
Schulz, is published by Pharos Books. 

1990 The French Ministry of Culture awards Schulz the Odre des 
Arts et des Lettres in Paris, and the Louvre opens its exhibi- 
tion Snoopy in Fashion. The National Museum of History in 
Washington, D.C., opens its exhibition, This Is Your Child- 
hood, Charlie Brown — Children in American Culture. 

1992 The Montreal Museum of Fine Art opens an exhibition, 
Snoopy, the Masterpiece. The Italian Minister of Culture 
awards Schulz the Order of Merit. 

1994 Around the World in 45Years: Charlie Brown’s Anniversary Cel- 
ebration by Schulz is published by Andrews and McMeel. 

1995 Around the Moon and Home Again: A Tribute to the Art of 
Charles M. Schulz is held at the Space Center in Houston in 
celebration of the 45th anniversary of Peanuts. An A & E 
television biography is devoted to Charles Schulz — A Charlie 
Brown Life. 



1996 A star is placed in honor of Schulz on the Hollywood Walk 
of Fame. 

1997 The world premiere of Peanuts Gallery by composer Ellen 
Taaffe Zwilich is held at Carnegie Hall. 

1999 Peanuts is selected as the best comic strip of the century 
second only to George Herriman’s Krazy Kat in a survey of 
critics and comic artists by the Comics Journal. Peanuts: A 
Golden Celebration by Schulz is published by Harper Collins. 
You’re a Good Man, Charlie Brown opens in a new production 
on Broadway. The International Museum of Cartoon Art in 
Boca Raton, Florida, opens a year-long celebration of the 
comic strip with an exhibition, Fifty Years of Peanuts: The 
Art of Charles M. Schulz. 

2000 The last Peanuts daily appears on January 3and the last Sun- 
day on February 13. On the evening of February 12, Schulz 
dies at his home in Santa Rosa. The Milton Caniff Lifetime 
Achievement Award is presented to Schulz posthumously 
by the National Cartoonists Society. Schulz is also awarded 
the Congressional Gold Medal, the body’s highest civilian 

same high school. I'd "No. no . no' . , . You don't se em to 

ask you to the sen.or understand 1 " 


My Life and Art with 
Charlie Brown and Others 

A nd so, 25 years have gone by. At one strip per day, that comes 
to almost 10,000 comic strips. Actually, this is not so much 
when you consider the longevity of many other comic fea- 
tures. Employees receive wristwatches if they have put in this much 
time with a company, but a comic-strip artist just keeps on drawing. 
(Somehow a comic-strip artist is never regarded as an employee.) I 
have been asked many times if I ever dreamed that Peanuts would 
become as successful as it is, and I think I always surprise people 
when I say, “Well, frankly, I guess I did expect it, because, after all, it 
was something I had planned for since I was six years old.” Obviously 
I did not know that Snoopy was going to go to the moon, and I did 
not know that the phrase “happiness is a warm puppy” would prompt 
hundreds of other such definitions, and I did not know that the term 
“security blanket” would become part of the American language; but 
I did have the hope that I would be able to contribute something to a 
profession that I can say now I have loved all my life. 

It is important to me, when I am discussing comic strips, to 
make certain that everyone knows that I do not regard what I am 
doing as Great Art. I am certainly not ashamed of the work I do, nor 
do I apologize for being involved in a field that is generally regarded 
as occupying a very low rung on the entertainment ladder. I am 
all too aware of the fact that when a reviewer for a sophisticated 



My Life 

journal wishes to downgrade the latest Broadway play, one of the 
worst things he can say about it is that it has a comic-strip plot. This 
is also true for movie reviewers, but I tend to believe that movies, 
as a whole, really do not rank that much higher than comic strips 
as an art form. The comic strip can be an extremely creative form 
of endeavor. On its highest level, we find a wonderful combination 
of writing and drawing, generally done by one writer. But there are 
several factors that work against comic strips, preventing them from 
becoming a true art form in the mind of the public. In the first place, 
they are reproduced with the express purpose of helping publishers 
sell their publications. The paper on which they appear is not of the 
best quality, so the reproductions lose much of the beauty of the 
originals. The artist is also forced to serve many masters — he must 
please the syndicate editor, as well as the countless editors who pur- 
chase his comic strip. The strip is not always exhibited in the best 
place, but is forced to compete on the same page with other strips 
that may be printed larger or enjoy a better position. And there are 
always annoying things like copyright stickers, which can break up 
the pleasing design of a panel, or the intrusion of titles into first 
panels in order to save space. The true artist, working on his canvas, 
does not have to put up with such desecrations. 

There is a trend these days to try to prove that comic strips are 
true art by exhibiting them in galleries, either for people simply to 
enjoy viewing, or for customers to purchase. It seems to me that 
although this is a laudable effort, it is begging the question, because 
how we distinguish something doesn’t matter nearly as much as the 
purpose it serves. The comic strip serves its purpose in an admirable 
way, for there is no medium that can compete with it for readership 
or for longevity. There are numerous comic strips that have been 
enjoyed by as many as 60 million readers a day, for a period of fifty 
years. Having a large audience does not, of course, prove that some- 
thing is necessarily good, and I subscribe to the theory that only a 
creation that speaks to succeeding generations can truly be labeled 
art. Unfortunately, very few comic strips seem to do this. 

My Life and Art with Charlie Brown 


b b b 

In my earliest recollections of drawing I seem to be at a small black- 
board with a paper roller at the top on which are printed the ABC’s. 
It was from this roller that I was able to learn the alphabet before I 
began kindergarten, and I know that I drew constantly on the black- 
board and had it for many years. 

It may have been on the first day at kindergarten, or at least 
during the first week, when the teacher handed out big crayons and 
huge sheets of white wrapping paper and told us to lie on the floor 
and draw something. Several of my mother’s relatives had recently 
moved from Twin Cities to Needles, California, and I had heard my 
mother reading a letter from one of them telling of the sandstorms 
in Needles and also describing the tall palm trees. So when the 
teacher told us to draw whatever came to our minds, being familiar 
with the Minnesota snowstorms I drew a man shoveling snow, but 
then added a palm tree to the background. 

I recall being somewhat puzzled when I was drawing the snow 
shovel because I was not quite sure how to put it in proper perspec- 
tive. I knew that drawing the shovel square was not right, but I didn’t 
know how to solve the problem. At any rate, it didn’t seem to bother 
the teacher. She came around during the project, looked down at my 
drawing, and said, “Someday, Charles, you’re going to be an artist.” 

I never knew what family problems caused us to make the move, 
but in 1930, when I was six years old, my mother and father and 
I drove from St. Paul to Needles in a 1928 Ford. I believe the trip 
took us almost two weeks. We remained in Needles for almost a year 
and I suppose there were some happy times, but I think my dad was 
disillusioned with what he saw. He had intended to continue north- 
west and settle in Sacramento, but somehow he never made the final 
move. After a year, we moved back to St. Paul and he repurchased 
his barbershop. I have memories of the trip to Needles, but I don’t 
remember a single thing about the return trip to St. Paul. We set- 
tled in a neighborhood about two blocks from my dad’s barbershop 


My Life 

and most of my playtime life revolved around the yard of the grade 
school across the street from our apartment. In the wintertime we 
played in the deep snow, and in the summertime we either played 
baseball in the schoolyard or used its sandy wastes as the Sahara 
Desert when inspired by seeing movies such as The Lost Patrol with 
Victor McLaglen. 

I was drawing cartoons during those years but created very few 
original characters. Most of the time I copied Buck Rogers or Walt 
Disney figures, or some of the characters in Tim Tyler’s Luck. I was 
fascinated by the animals in this feature. 

Early influences on my work were many. I continued to be a 
great fan of all the Disney characters when I was in grade school, and 
I also enjoyed Popeye and Wimpy very much. I used to decorate my 
loose-leaf binders with drawings of Mickey Mouse, The Three Little 
Pigs, and Popeye, and whenever friends in class would see these car- 
toons, I would be asked to draw them on their notebooks as well. I 
used to buy every Big Little Book and comic magazine that came out 
and study all of the various cartoonists’ techniques. When I reached 
high school age, the work of Milt Caniff and A1 Capp influenced me 
considerably, as well as that of some of the earlier cartoonists such 
as Clare Briggs (“When a Fella Needs a Friend”). I also thought there 
was no one who drew funnier and more warm-hearted cartoons than 
J. R. Williams. But the man who influenced me the most was Roy 
Crane with his drawings of Wash Tubbs and Captain Easy. His rol- 
licking style laid the groundwork for many cartoonists who followed 
him. A book collection of Krazy Kat was published sometime in the 
late 1940s, which did much to inspire me to create a feature that 
went beyond the mere actions of ordinary children. After World War 
II, I began to study the Krazy Kat strip for the first time, for during 
my younger years I never had the opportunity to see a newspaper 
that carried it. 

Also in my high school years, I became a Sherlock Holmes fanatic 
and used to buy scrapbooks at the local five-and-dime and fill them 
with Sherlock Holmes stories in comic-book form. A friend of mine 

My Life and Art with Charlie Brown 


named Shermy was one of my faithful readers, and when I started 
Peanuts I used his name for one of the original characters. 

b b b 

My scholastic career got off to a good start when I was very young. 
I received a special diploma in the second grade for being the out- 
standing boy student, and in the third and fifth grades I was moved 
ahead so suddenly that I was the smallest kid in the class. Somehow, 
I survived the early years of grade school, but when I entered junior 
high school, I failed everything in sight. High school proved not 
much better. There was no doubt I was absolutely the worst physics 
student in the history of St. Paul Central High School. It was not 
until I became a senior that I earned any respectable grades at all. I 
have often felt that some semblance of maturity began to arrive at 
last. I saved that final report card because it was the only one that 
seemed to justify those long years of agony. 

While I was a senior, my very fine teacher of illustration, Miss 
Minette Paro, invited me to draw a series of cartoons about some of 
the activities around school for our senior annual. I was delighted to 
do this and set about it quickly, and promptly presented the draw- 
ings to Miss Paro. She seemed pleased with them, and I looked for- 
ward to the publishing of our yearbook, where I expected finally to 
see my cartoons on the printed page. The last day of school arrived 
and I thumbed anxiously through the annual, but found none of my 
drawings. To this day, I do not know why they were rejected. I have 
enjoyed a certain revenge, however, for ever since Peanuts was cre- 
ated I have received a steady stream of requests from high schools 
around the country to use the characters in their yearbooks. Eventu- 
ally I accumulated a stack tall enough to reach the ceiling. 

I think it is important for adults to consider what they were 
doing and what their attitudes were when they were the age their 
own children are now. There is no other real way of understanding 
the problems of children. 


My Life 

Charlie Brown’s father is a barber, which is autobiographical, for 
our family’s life revolved around the long hours my dad spent in his 
barbershop. He loved his work very much. I recall him telling me 
once that he really enjoyed getting up in the morning and going off 
to work. He was always in the barbershop by 8:00 in the morning, 
and during the 1930s he always worked until at least 6:30, and on 
Friday and Saturday nights, many times, until 8:00 or 9:00. He had 
one day off each week, Sunday, and his favorite sport was fishing. 
Occasionally, he would take my mother and me to a night baseball 
game or a hockey game, but fishing was always his main interest. It 
must have been disappointing to have a son who preferred golf. 

Frequently in the evenings I went to the barbershop to wait for 
him to finish work and then walk home with him. He loved to read 
the comic strips, and we discussed them together and worried about 
what was going to happen next to certain of the characters. On Sat- 
urday evening, I would run up to the local drugstore at 9:00 when 
then Sunday pages were delivered and buy the two Minneapolis 
papers. The next morning, the two St. Paul papers would be deliv- 
ered, so we had four comic sections to read. Several years later, when 
I became a delivery boy for one of the local printing firms, I used to 
pass the windows of the St. Paul Pioneer Press and look in where I 
could see the huge presses and the Sunday funnies tumbling down 
across the rollers. I wondered if I would ever see my own comics on 
those presses. 

My mother also encouraged me in my drawing but, sadly, never 
lived to see any of my work published. She died a long, lingering 
death from cancer, when I was twenty, and it was a loss from which 
I sometimes believe I never recovered. Today it is a source of aston- 
ishment to me that I am older than she was when she died, and real- 
izing this saddens me even more. 

When I was thirteen, we were given a black-and-white dog who 
turned out to be the forerunner of Snoopy. He was a mixed breed and 
slightly larger than the beagle Snoopy is supposed to be. He probably 
had a little pointer in him and some other kind of hound, but he was 

My Life and Art with Charlie Brown 


a wild creature; I don’t believe he was ever completely tamed. He 
had a “vocabulary” of understanding of approximately fifty words, 
and he loved to ride in the car. He waited all day for my dad to come 
home from the barbershop, and on Saturday evenings, just before 
9:00, he always put his paws on my dad’s chair to let him know it 
was time to get in the car and make the short drive up to the store 
to buy those newspapers. When I decided to put the dog in Peanuts, 
I used the general appearance of Spike, with similar markings. I had 
decided that the dog in the strip was to be named Sniffy, until one 
day, just before the strip was actually to be published, I was walking 
past a newsstand and glanced down at the rows of comic magazines. 
There I saw one about a dog named Sniffy, so I had to go back to 
my room and think of another name. Fortunately, before I even got 
home, I recalled my mother once saying that if we ever had another 
dog, we should name him Snoopy. 

Not long ago I was looking through The Art of Walt Disney, a 
beautiful book, and there was a list of names that had been consid- 
ered for The Seven Dwarfs. Lo and behold, one of the names that had 
been considered, but turned down, was Snoopy. 


In my childhood, sports played a reasonably strong role, although 
they were strictly the sandlot variety. There was no organized Little 
League for us, even though we were all quite fanatical about base- 
ball. Living in Minnesota restricted much of our sports activity, for 
the warmer seasons were short and clearly defined. Spring meant 
the coming of the marble season, and I loved playing marbles. When 
the baseball season came, we organized our own team and chal- 
lenged those of other neighborhoods. We rarely had good fields for 
our games, and it was always our dream to play on a smooth infield 
and actually have a backstop behind the catcher so we wouldn’t have 
to chase the foul balls. All too often, we would have to lift a man- 
hole cover and lower someone to retrieve a baseball that had rolled 


My Life 

along the curb and down into the sewer. We played a little tackle 
football, but more often touch football, as it was clearly less rough 
and did not have to be played on soft ground. In Minnesota, almost 
everyone knows how to skate, but I didn’t actually learn on a real 
skating rink. Every sidewalk in front of every school had a sheet of 
ice at least ten feet long worn smooth from the kids sliding on it. 
It was on such a patch of ice, no longer than ten feet or wider than 
three feet, that I learned to skate. To play hockey on a real rink was 
a hopeless dream. Our hockey was usually played on a very tiny rink 
in one of our backyards, or in the street where we simply ran around 
with shoes rather than skates. The goals were two large clumps of 
snow, which were easily destroyed by inconsiderate drivers. I had 
always wanted to play golf, and had seen a series of Bobby Jones 
movie shorts when I was nine years old. There was no one to show 
me the game, and it was not until I was fifteen that I had a chance 
to try it. Immediately I fell totally in love with golf. I could think 
of almost nothing else for the next few years. I still wanted to be a 
cartoonist, but I also dreamed of becoming a great amateur golfer. 
Unfortunately, I never won anything except the caddy champion- 
ship of Highland Park. 

There are certain seasons in our lives that each of us can recall, 
and there are others that disappear from our memories like the 
melting snow. When I was fourteen, I had a summer that I shall 
always remember. We had organized our own neighborhood base- 
ball team, but we never played on a strict schedule, for we didn’t 
know when we could find another team to play. I lived about a block 
from a grade school called Maddocks in St. Paul where there was 
a rather large crushed-rock playground, which did have two base- 
ball backstops, but no fences. A hard-hit ground ball could elude 
the second baseman or shortstop and very easily roll into the out- 
field so fast that none of the outfielders would be able to stop it, 
and it would be quite possible for a fast runner to beat it out for a 
home run. This field could also make sliding into second base rea- 
sonably painful if you were not careful. Fortunately, it was smooth 

My Life and Art with Charlie Brown 


enough so ground balls hit to the infielders did not take too many 
bad bounces. 

A man named Harry (I never knew his last name) was the play- 
ground director that summer. He saw our interest in playing base- 
ball and came up with the idea that we should organize four teams 
and have a summer league. This was the most exciting news that had 
come to any of us in a long time. There were two games each Tuesday 
and Thursday and I could hardly wait for them to begin. One game 
was to start at 9:00 between two of the teams, and the other game 
was to start at 10:30 between the other two teams. I was always at 
the field by 7:30 with all of my equipment, waiting for something to 
happen. Our team came in first place that year, probably because we 
practiced more than the other teams, and one day I actually pitched 
a no-hit, no-run game. It was a great summer and I wish that there 
was some way I could let that man, whom we knew only as Harry, 
know how much I appreciated it. 

We knew little about Harry because boys that age are never 
quite that interested in people older than they. At my mother’s 
suggestion, all the boys on our team chipped in and brought him 
a cake one day to demonstrate our appreciation for what he had 
done for us. He was a gentle man, probably not more than twenty- 
three or twenty-four, and I doubt if he was married. This was prob- 
ably only a temporary job for him during times when it was dif- 
ficult to find work, but he did his job well and he gave all of us a 
happy summer. 

I have always tried to dig beneath the surface in my sports car- 
toons by drawing upon an intimate knowledge of the games. The chal- 
lenges to be faced in sports work marvelously as a caricature of the 
challenges that we face in the more serious aspects of our lives. Any- 
time I experienced a crushing defeat in bowling, or had a bad night at 
bridge, or failed to qualify in the opening round of a golf tournament, 
I was able to transfer my frustrations to poor Charlie Brown. And 
when Charlie Brown has tried to analyze his own difficulties in life, 
he has always been able to express them best in sports terms. 


My Life 


During my senior year in high school, my mother showed me an ad 
that read: “Do you like to draw? Send in for our free talent test.” This 
was my introduction to Art Instruction Schools, Inc., the correspon- 
dence school known at that time as Federal Schools. It was and still 
is located in Minneapolis, and even though, after signing up for the 
course, I could have taken my drawing there in person, I did all of the 
lessons by mail, as I would have had I lived several states away, for I 
was not that proud of my work. 

I could have gone to one of several resident schools in the Twin 
Cities, but it was this correspondence course’s emphasis upon car- 
tooning that won me. The entire course came to approximately $170, 
and I remember my father having difficulty keeping up with the pay- 
ments. I recall being quite worried when he received dunning letters, 
and when I expressed these worries to him he said not to become too 
concerned. I realized then that during those later Depression days 
he had become accustomed to owing people money. I eventually 
completed the course, and he eventually paid for it. 


The two years following high school were extremely difficult, for this 
was the time that my mother was suffering so much with her ill- 
ness. I was drafted during the month of February, in 1943, and spent 
several weeks at the induction center at Fort Snelling, Minnesota. 
We were allowed to go home on the weekends, and I recall how one 
Sunday evening, just before I had to return to Fort Snelling across 
the river from St. Paul, I went into the bedroom to say goodbye to 
my mother. She was lying in bed, very ill, and she said to me, “Yes, I 
suppose we should say good-bye because we probably will never see 
each other again.” She died the next day and our tiny family was torn 
apart. I was shipped down to Camp Campbell, Kentucky, and my dad 
was left to try to put his life back together. He continued to work 

My Life and Art with Charlie Brown 


daily in the barbershop and finally accumulated a total of forty-five 
years working in the same place. 

All of the summer-camp ideas that I have drawn are a result of 
my having absolutely no desire as a child to be sent away to a sum- 
mer camp. To me, that was the equivalent to being drafted. When 
World War II came along, I met it with the same lack of enthusi- 
asm. The three years I spent in the army taught me all I needed to 
know about loneliness, and my sympathy for the loneliness that all 
of us experience is dropped heavily upon poor Charlie Brown. I know 
what it is to have to spend days, evenings, and weekend by myself, 
and I also know how uncomfortable anxiety can be. I worry about 
almost all there is in life to worry about, and because I worry, Charlie 
Brown has to worry. I suppose our anxieties increase as we become 
responsible for more people. Perhaps some form of maturity should 
take care of this, but in my case it didn’t. At any rate, I place the 
source of many of my problems on those three years in the army. The 
lack of any timetable or any idea as to when any of us would get out 
was almost unbearable. We used to sit around in the evenings and 
talk about things like this, and we were completely convinced that 
we were going to be in for the rest of our lives. The war seemed to 
have no end in sight. Yet, in spite of this, I recall a particular evening 
when I was on guard duty at the motor pool at the far end of the 
camp that is now called Fort Campbell, in the southern part of Ken- 
tucky; it was a beautiful summer evening, there was no one around 
in this area of the camp, and it was my job simply to see that no one 
interfered with any of the vehicles in that part of the motor pool, or 
tried to take any of them out of that particular gate. The only person 
in the world I had to worry about was my father, and I knew that he 
could take care of himself. As I sat there in the tiny guard shack, I 
seemed to be at complete peace with the world. Still, I knew for sure 
that I did not want to be where I was. 

My mind has gone back to that hour many times, and I have 
tried to analyze why I should have been so at peace at that time. 
This is the kind of examination that produces some of the pages in 


My Life 

Peanuts, but of course it is covered up by little cartoon characters, 
using dialogue that is at once condensed and exaggerated. Why does 
the cartoonist see something funny in all of these anxieties? Is it 
because the cartoonist is afraid of complete commitment? Perhaps 
this is why so many draw about political or social problems rather 
than try to run for political office or participate in social work. Per- 
haps it demonstrates a certain character trait, as with the person 
who makes what starts out to be a serious statement, but then, real- 
izing what he has said, qualifies it or steps back slightly, adding a 
self-conscious chuckle. 

b b b 

When I was just out of high school, I started to submit cartoons to 
most of the major magazines, as all the ambitious amateurs do, but 
received only the ordinary rejection slips and no encouragement. 
After World War II, however, I set about in earnest to sell my work. 
I visited several places in the Twin Cities to try to get some job in 
whatever art department might be able to use my limited talents, 
but I was unsuccessful. I was almost hired one day to letter tomb- 
stones and was glad when the man did not call me back the next day, 
for I had already begun to worry what my friends might say when 
I told them about my new job. One day, however, with my collec- 
tion of sample comic strips in hand, I visited the offices of Timeless 
Topix, the publishers of a series of Catholic comic magazines. The 
art director, Roman Baltes, seemed to like my lettering and said, “I 
think I may have something for you to do.” He gave me several comic- 
book pages that had already been drawn by others but with the bal- 
loons left blank, and he told me that I should fill in the dialogue. 
This was my first job, but soon after I took it I was also hired by Art 
Instruction. For the next year, I lettered comic pages for Timeless 
Topix, working sometimes until past midnight, getting up early the 
next morning, taking a streetcar to downtown St. Paul, leaving the 

My Life and Art with Charlie Brown 


work outside the door of Mr. Baltes’ office, and then going over to 
Minneapolis to work at the correspondence school. 

My job there was to correct some of the basic lessons, and it 
introduced me to a roomful of people who did much to affect my 
later life. The instructors at this correspondence school were bright, 
and the atmosphere in the large room was invigorating. Each per- 
son there seemed to have a special interest in some phase of com- 
mercial art or cartooning, and some even painting. The head of the 
department was Walter J. Wilwerding, a famous magazine illustra- 
tor of that period. Directly in front of me sat a man named Frank 
Wing who had drawn a special feature called “Yesterdays,” which ran 
for a short time during the 1930s He was a perfectionist at drawing 
things as they appeared, and I believe he did much to inspire me. He 
taught me the importance of drawing accurately, and even though 
I felt he was somewhat disappointed in me — and disapproved of 
my eventual drawing style — there is no doubt that I learned much 
from him. Almost nothing I draw now, in what is sometimes a quite 
extreme style, is not based on a real knowledge of how to draw that 
object, whether it be a shoe, a doghouse, or a child’s hand. Cartoon- 
ing, after all, is simply good design. In learning how to design a 
human hand after knowing how to draw it properly, one produces a 
good cartoon. 


Some of the people who worked at Art Instruction Schools with me 
have remained friends all of these years, and I have used the names 
of several in the strip. Charlie Brown was named after my very good 
friend, Charlie Brown, whose desk was across the room. I recall 
perfectly the day he came over and first looked at the little cartoon 
face that had been named after him. “Is that what he looks like?” he 
expressed with dismay. The characters of Linus and Frieda were also 
named after friends of mine who were instructors. 


My Life 

Those were days filled with hilarity, for there was always some- 
one with a good joke, or laughter from some innocent mistake made 
by one of the students. It was not unusual for us to receive drawings 
of thumbs, and whenever we pulled such a drawing from its enve- 
lope we realized once again a student had misunderstood the expres- 
sion “making a thumbnail sketch.” Another confusion came over the 
instruction to “experiment with matchstick figures”; students would 
actually send paper matchsticks glued to a sheet of paper. 

There were many of us on the staff of Art Instruction who had 
ambitions to go on to other things, and I used my spare time, after 
completing the regular lesson criticisms, to work on my own car- 
toons. I tried never to let a week go by without having something 
in the mail working for me. During one period of time, from 1948 
to 1950, 1 submitted cartoons regularly to the Saturday Evening Post, 
and sold fifteen of them. I was never able to break into any of the 
other magazines. 

These were strongly formative years, and my ability to think 
of ideas and to present them properly was improving steadily. It 
seemed that it would be only a matter of time before I would be able 
to sell some type of marketable feature to a syndicate. I am still con- 
vinced that my eventual success was due largely to what I have called 
“the invigorating atmosphere” in the department of instruction at 
the correspondence school. I suppose it would be similar to that of a 
newspaper office. I had always dreamed of someday having a desk in 
a newspaper office, but it never came about. 

It was an exciting time for me because I was involved in the very 
sort of thing I wished to do. I not only lettered the complete Timeless 
Topix in English, but would do the French and Spanish translations 
without having any idea as to what the balloons were saying. One 
day Roman bought a page of little panel cartoons that I had drawn 
and titled “Just Keep Laughing.” One of the cartoons showed a small 
boy who looked prophetically like Schroeder sitting on the curb with 
a baseball bat in his hands talking to a little girl who looked pro- 
phetically like Patty. He was saying, “I think I could learn to love you, 

My Life and Art with Charlie Brown 


Judy, if your batting average was a little higher.” Frank Wing, my 
fellow instructor at Art Instruction, said, “Sparky, I think you should 
draw more of those little kids. They are pretty good.” So I concen- 
trated on creating a group of samples and eventually sold them as a 
weekly feature called Li’l Folks to the St. Paul Pioneer Press. 

I was making regular trips to Chicago to try to sell a comic 
feature and was always gratified to talk with Mr. John Dille, Jr., at 
his National Newspaper Syndicate, for he was invariably kind and 
patient with me. This was not always true at some of the other syn- 
dicates. I dropped into the Chicago Sun one day and showed my 
work to Walt Ditzen, who was then their comic editor, and he was 
very impressed with what he saw. I recall him exclaiming, “I cer- 
tainly cannot say no to this. We’ll have to take it in to the presi- 
dent.” We went into the man’s office; he barely looked at the work 
and abruptly said, “No.” 

At this time I was also becoming a little more gregarious and 
was learning how to talk with people. When I first used to board the 
morning Zephyr and ride it to Chicago, I would make the entire trip 
without talking to anyone. Little by little, however, I was getting rid 
of my shyness and feelings of inferiority, and learning how to strike 
up acquaintances on the train and talk to people. Two conversations 
in the dining car remain with me. I was seated across from a nicely, 
but conservatively, dressed gentleman one time on my way to Chi- 
cago; we introduced ourselves, and he asked me about the nature of 
my trip. After I had explained a little about myself, he told me that 
he was a Methodist minister, to which I replied, “Yes, I sort of fig- 
ured you were a minister.” As I was saying this I knew, as we all too 
frequently do in such situations, that I was saying the wrong thing, 
but it came out before I could stop myself. Then, of course, I had to 
explain why I had deduced that he was a minister without offend- 
ing him, even though the conclusion could be just as flattering as 
insulting. On my return trip to St. Paul, I struck up a conversation 
with another extremely interesting man who turned out to be the 
publisher of a small music magazine. Because I was just beginning to 


My Life 

become acquainted with classical music, and because I was so inter- 
ested in the entire subject, yet so clearly a layman, I had much to ask 
him. I had recently purchased Berlioz’s Harold in Italy, and had fallen 
in love with its many melodic passages. I asked him what he thought 
of Harold in Italy. He considered this for several moments before 
looking at me and saying, “Well, the human ear is a strange thing.” I 
didn’t dare ask him what he meant. I had the feeling it would be bet- 
ter not to know. 

I continued to mail my work out to major syndicates. One day 
I opened up a letter from one syndicate that turned me down, and 
then opened another letter from the director of NEA in Cleveland 
saying he liked my work very much. Arrangements were made dur- 
ing the next few months for me to start drawing a Sunday feature for 
NEA, but at the last minute their editors changed their minds and I 
had to start all over. In the spring of 1950 1 accumulated a batch of 
some of the better cartoons I had been drawing for the St. Paul paper 
and mailed them off to United Feature Syndicate in New York. I 
don’t know how much time went by without my hearing from them, 
but I’m sure it was at least six weeks. Convinced that my drawings 
had been lost in the mail, I finally wrote them a letter, describing the 
drawings I had sent and asking them if they could recall receiving 
anything similar. If not, I wanted to know so that I could put a tracer 
on the lost cartoons. Instead, I received a very nice letter from Jim 
Freeman, their editorial director, who said they were very interested 
in my work and would I care to come to New York and talk about it. 

That was an exciting trip. When I arrived at the Syndicate offices 
early in the morning, no one other than the receptionist was there. 
I had brought along a new comic strip I had been working on, rather 
than the panel cartoons that United Feature had seen. I simply 
wanted to give them a better view of my work. I told the receptionist 
that I had not had breakfast yet, so I would go out and eat and then 
return. When I got back to the Syndicate offices, they had already 
decided they would rather publish the strip than the panel. This 
made me very happy, for I preferred the strip myself. I returned to 

My Life and Art with Charlie Brown 


Minneapolis filled with great hope for the future and asked a certain 
girl to marry me. When she turned me down and married someone 
else, there was no doubt that Charlie Brown was on his way. Losers 
get started early. 

Charles M. Schulz, Peanuts Jubilee: My Life and Art with Charlie Brown and Others 
(New York: Holt, Rinehart and Winston, 1975), 11-36. 

Peanuts as 
Profession of Faith 

A n interviewer once wrote that one of my characters, Charlie 
Brown, mirrors some of my own childhood troubles. That 
may be true, but he is also a reflection of the troubles of mil- 
lions of others — or so I gather from those who write me. I think 
Charlie is a reflection of something in all of us which needs constant 
reassuring that the people round about us really do like us. 

Linus’ affection for his blanket, on the other hand, is a symbol 
of the things we cling to. Our first three children, when they were 
small, all carried blankets around the house with them. But some 
of our adult habits are ridiculous. Not long ago I had Linus’ blanket- 
hating grandmother come to his house for a visit. She tried to get 
him to give up his propensity for the blanket; so he threw up to her 
the fact that she was drinking 32 cups of coffee a day! 

I grew up an only child, and my mother died the very week I 
was drafted. This was a tremendous blow to our little family. I was 
assigned to the 20th Armored Division and eventually became a 
machine gun squad leader. Our division was shipped to Germany 
just before the war ended, and we took part in the liberation of 
Dachau and Munich. We were also assigned to the proposed inva- 
sion of Japan which never materialized. 

Before going into the armed forces I met a minister from a local 
congregation. He walked into my father’s barbershop one day in St. 


Peanuts as Profession of Faith 


Paul, Minnesota, and we became friends. It was not long after that 
that we called him to preach my mother’s funeral sermon. After 
coming back from the Army, I began to attend services at his church. 
We had an active group of young people — all of us were in our twen- 
ties — and we began studying the Bible together. 

The more I thought about the matter during those studying 
times, the more I realized that I really loved God. I recognized the 
fact that He had pulled me through a depression in which I had been 
torn apart from everything I knew, and that He had enabled me to 
survive so many experiences. These realizations did not come upon 
me at any particular great moment of decision. I never went forward 
at a Sunday evening service. I cannot point to a specific time of dedi- 
cation to Christ. I was just suddenly “there,” and did not know when 
it happened that I arrived. 

I accepted Jesus Christ by gratitude. I have always been grateful 
for the things the Lord has provided me with: good health, educa- 
tion, family, and the experiences of World War II which have now 
passed into history. 

Since those youth group days, we have all moved to different 
areas, and many of us have become active in other churches. I teach 
the adult Sunday School class in a church in Sebastopol, California. 
I am trying to encourage the new members in particular to raise 
questions and to present their views in class without fear or embar- 
rassment. It is terrible, of course, to be a beginner in anything and 
to feel that you don’t know enough about the subject. Most people 
feel that way about the Bible. The idea is to create a climate in which 
people will not be afraid to ask even little questions. And it is such a 
thrill when you find someone saying that he is doing some outside 
reading and that for the first time in his life he is studying the Bible 
on his own. 

In my cartooning I draw for two kinds of editors: secular edi- 
tors and church editors. I work for the secular press through a news- 
paper syndicate, and naturally I must exercise care in the way I go 
about expressing things. I have a message that I want to present, 



My Life 

but I would rather bend a little to put over a point than to have the 
whole strip dropped because it is too obvious. As a result, all kinds 
of people in religious work have written to thank me for preaching in 
my own way through the strips. That is one of the things that keeps 
me going. 

Sometimes people ask whether our children (they range in age 
from six to fourteen years) supply me with most of my ideas. For 
the most part I have to say that they do not; nor do I get many ideas 
from watching pets. Snoopy, you see, is more a result of reflection 
than of observation. You just don’t see dogs lying around on top of 

As I said, I also work for church magazine editors, and my teen- 
age cartoons appear in about seventy different church publications 
every week. This is a different medium. I step out now and then and 
say a few things which people don’t want to see in cartoons. But I 
am trying to teach some of the church publication editors that if you 
do not say anything in a cartoon, you might as well not draw at all. 
Humor which does not say anything is worthless. 

So I contend that a cartoonist must be given a chance to do his 
own preaching. I say to the editors, “You have to give us room to 
work, and you have to tolerate us, too, and not regard the cartoon as 
a mere ‘filler.’” Of course, I am very fond of my editor friends and am 
surprised and happy that such a variety of groups is publishing this 

This comes back to my relationship of gratitude. I feel a con- 
stant gratefulness to God for His patience with me and with all of 
us. I cannot fail to be thrilled every time I read the things that Jesus 
said, and I am more and more convinced of the necessity of following 
Him. What Jesus means to me is this: in Him we are able to see God 
and to understand His feelings toward us. 

I am still a believer in what the church refers to as “holy living.” 
I think it is applicable for a person in whatever profession he may 
be working. We were able to prove a good point in the publishing of 
Happiness Is a Warm Puppy a couple of years ago. One needs only to 

Peanuts as Profession of Faith 


look quickly around him to see the great quantity of useless litera- 
ture being published, and yet there was a market for a book which 
was absolutely pure in content to the extent that it immediately sold 
a million copies. What does this mean to those who cry that the pub- 
lic wants things which are only low and degrading? I think each of 
us who deals in any way with things which are creative and things 
which are going to be read or looked at or heard by the public, needs 
always to test himself by the eighth verse in the fourth chapter of 
the book of Philippians: “Finally, brethren, whatsoever things are 
just, whatsoever things are pure, whatsoever things are lovely, what- 
soever things are of good report; if there be any virtue, and if there 
be any praise, think on these things.” 

Recently I published a little series of cartoons on the subject of 
security. Perhaps the way I feel about Christ is best told in the last 
cartoon of that series. Linus is kneeling with his arms on his bed, 
and the caption reads, “Security is knowing you are not alone.” 

Charles M. Schulz, “Peanuts,” Collegiate Challenge, 1963. 

Commencement Address 
at Saint Mary’s College 

I would like to use a text from Romans 8:26 as a basis for my 
thought this morning. “Likewise the Spirit helps us in our 
weakness; for we do not know how to pray as we ought, but 
the Spirit himself intercedes for us with sighs too deep for words.” 

Saint Mary’s College is to be complimented for its courage. It is 
probably the only college in the country which has invited a comic 
strip artist to be its Commencement Day speaker. I take this as not 
only a great personal compliment, but also a great compliment to a 
profession that is not always treated so well. There is great tendency 
to downgrade some of the professions that make up the list of what 
we sometimes call the lively arts, and the comic strip is usually placed 
at the very bottom of that list. In spite of this, about ninety million 
people read the funnies every day, and take them quite seriously. 

I must admit that I am always amazed at the public response 
to some of the episodes in Peanuts. During the past few months I 
have been receiving letters from people who have either fought the 
Red Baron in Sopwith Camels or are very familiar with the areas 
around the front lines where Snoopy always gets shot down. A few 
weeks ago I received calls from people around the country begging to 
have Linus and Lucy move back into the neighborhood. I told them 
that I had no control over the company that was transferring Linus’ 
and Lucy’s father to a new city. One Sunday morning, however, we 


Commencement Address at Saint Mary's College 


stirred up some trouble that I absolutely never anticipated. In the 
paper that came out that morning Charlie Brown and all his friends 
were playing croquet. Lucy had just hit Charlie Brown’s ball, and had 
driven it a couple of blocks down the street. In fact, she had hit it 
so far that the last panel showed Charlie Brown standing in an out- 
door telephone booth. He was saying, “Call me when it’s my turn. 
The number is 343-279 4’. 

Now, when I thought of drawing this page, I had intended to put 
in my own telephone number. However, I thought of a better idea. I 
have a very close friend who lives in Burlingame. He is the producer 
of our animated television shows, and he loves to talk to people on 
the phone. This was a natural! Why not put his number in the comic 
strip? Well, on that fateful Sunday morning the telephone rang the 
first time at six o’clock. It continued to ring steadily until past nine 
o’clock that evening, and each time it was answered, voices of differ- 
ent ages would say, “It’s your turn, Charlie Brown.” 

Another Sunday page that stirred up considerable interest 
is appropriate today because it has to do with visions, hopes, and 
dreams. Charlie Brown, Lucy, and Linus are lying on top of a small 
knoll looking up at some puffy clouds floating across the sky, and 
Lucy says, “If you use your imagination, you can see lots of things in 
the cloud formations . . . What do you think you see, Linus?” 

“Well, those clouds up there look to me like the map of the Brit- 
ish Honduras on the Caribbean . . . That cloud up there looks a little 
like the profile of Thomas Eakins, the famous painter and sculptor 
. . . And that group of clouds over there gives me the impression of 
the stoning of Saint Stephen ... I can see the Apostle Paul standing 
there to one side . . .” 

“That’s very good,” says Lucy. “What do you see in the clouds, 
Charlie Brown?” 

“Well, I was going to say I saw a ducky and a horsie, but I’ve 
changed my mind!” 

During this past week, speakers on campuses all across the 
country have been talking to graduates about many subjects. When 


YOU CAN SEE lots of things in the 

And that group of clouds (Mer there 



f OH H0H...THAT!! 

: XI 

United Feature* Syndicate 


My Life 

we did the Christmas show for television last year, we wanted to do 
something that would show the children’s search for the true mean- 
ing of Christmas, and after days of pondering, I finally decided that 
every idea we had was an idea that really avoided the essential truth 
which was that the true meaning of Christmas could be found only 
in the Gospel according to Saint Luke and so we had Linus recite 
those famous passages. The same thing is happening here today. No 
matter what I consider to say, I come back to a passage in the New 
Testament that contains a truth in which I firmly believe. In the last 
chapter of the Book of John we find Peter and Thomas, Nathaniel, 
the sons of Zebedee, and two others who are unnamed turning back 
to their old profession of fishing. Now, it is possible to read these 
stories many times before certain truths filter through to us. I recall 
reading the dramatic conflict between the devil and Jesus on the 
mountaintop. The devil had offered to Jesus all the kingdoms of this 
world, and Jesus turned him down. We read this story and we think 
only of the fact that Jesus turned down the opportunity to be a ruler 
of Israel. But Jesus recognized something that many of us take years 
to realize. The truth of the confrontation was that the devil was 
lying! The devil did not have the power to give all the kingdoms of 
the world to Jesus. If Jesus had yielded to the temptation, He would 
have been destroyed immediately by Roman authorities. 

And so as we move over the shore of the Sea of Tiberius we 
find Peter and his friends returning at dawn from fishing. A figure 
is standing on shore by a small charcoal fire. They gather round this 
fire, none daring to speak even though they know it is Jesus who 
has been waiting for them. Jesus turns to Peter, and asks, “Simon, 
son of John, do you love me more than these?” “Yes, Lord, You know 
that I love you.” Jesus said to him, “Feed my Lambs.” Then a second 
time Jesus asks, “Simon, son of John, do you love me?” and Peter 
answers, “Yes, Lord, You know that I love you.” Jesus said, “Tend 
my sheep.” Then a third time Jesus turns to Peter, and asks, “Simon, 
son of John, do you love me?” Imagine the flood of words that could 
have sprung from Peter’s mouth at this time. The explanations, the 

Commencement Address at Saint Mary's College 


apologies, the tears of anguish, but Peter has a better answer. It is 
the answer of supreme faith. “Lord, you know everything; You know 
that I love you.” 

When the excitement of these days passes away, and when some 
of the visions begin to grow a little dim; when it becomes impossible 
to put into words the prayer you want to speak, then we must be able 
to lift our heads up, and say with all faith as Peter did, “Lord, you 
know that I love you.” 

Delivered June 11, B66. 

Charles Schulz 
and Peanuts 

I n all the articles that have been written about Charlie Brown 
and Snoopy and the other things we have been doing, none of 
the writers has ever mentioned that the one cartoonist who 
helped most was Walt Ditzen. When he was working for one of the 
syndicates in Chicago, I dropped in with a batch of samples and he 
went far out of his way that day and later to give me advice and help 
that I badly needed. I have always regretted that Walt never got any 
credit for this where people could hear about it. 

Peanuts started as a space-saving comic strip, and although I am 
sure this helped to sell it and keep it in some of the papers that oth- 
erwise might not have given it room, I have always felt guilty about it 
because I am sure it helped to start a dangerous trend. It is a pity that 
we somehow cannot cooperate in spite of the tremendous rivalries 
that exist and produce syndicated material that would be of a standard 
size. I learned a long time ago that I was going to have to struggle for 
attention on the comic page when I had the smallest amount of space 
and others were using black borders and all sorts of dramatic heavy 
areas to gain attention. One of the best ways, of course, to counteract 
this was simply to use a little more white space. 

Jud [Hurd] has asked me to talk about whatever happens to 
come to mind, so a couple of other things have occurred to me that 
are related to the whole problem of trying to maintain our profession 


Charles Schulz and Peanuts 


in a time when some people seem to think it is struggling for exis- 
tence. I am not that pessimistic about our medium, but I do think 
there are many areas that need improving. I think one of the worst 
things is the system of trying to please readers who subscribe to 
only the daily or only the Sunday feature. By duplicating Saturday, 
Sunday, and Monday you punish the reader who follows the strip 
all the way through. I know that syndicates vary in their approach 
on this, but I think it is a foolish system; there is enough flexibil- 
ity in our medium either to run separate stories or not to worry so 
much about the continuity. I also am convinced that there should be 
a lot less crime in comic strips. Mystery stories are wonderful and 
adventure is an absolute necessity, but anything that follows televi- 
sion trends is fatal. In fact, the moment a cartoonist forgets that he 
is dealing in a different medium and tries instead to duplicate the 
movie or television screen, he is on the wrong track. 

For those of you who may be interested, I have now moved my 
studio to the Redwood Empire Ice Arena, which my wife and I built 
three years ago and where Warren Lockhart also has his office. War- 
ren and I have formed a new corporation called Creative Develop- 
ments, and out of this have come many new ideas for television pro- 
grams and a very close working relationship with various licensees 
who handle our side products. Our major project at the moment is 
the new movie we are doing with Lee Mendelson and Bill Melendez. 
It is to be called Snoopy Come Home, and I think it will be ten times 
better than the last movie we made, A Boy Named Charlie Brown. We 
have learned a good deal since we made that one, and we have high 
hopes that people will really like this new feature. My role is that 
of writer. I have complete editorial control of the movie and have 
written all the dialogue and have created every bit of business that 
you will see on the screen. Fortunately, working with Lee and Bill is 
very easy, for each of us never encroaches upon the other’s area of 
responsibility. I know what I want in the movie, but I also know my 
limitations and am perfectly willing to allow the animators to use 
their imagination where it is demanded for certain scenes. 

here's the world war i alvins Ace 



Charles Schulz and Peanuts 


Something just occurred to me. Due to a misunderstanding in 
a discussion about my background while riding in an elevator with 
Carl Rose, I have either been given credit or have been blamed for 
being a Protestant minister. Sometimes I am referred to as an ex- 
minister of the Methodist church or a Presbyterian, but actually I 
have never been anything of the sort. I am strictly a lay theologian 
and have never pretended to be more than that. The two books that 
Robert Short wrote were of his own doing and contained ideas and 
views that were strictly his. I will admit, however, that I have used 
many scriptural references in Peanuts and have always enjoyed doing 
this. It has opened up a whole new area of thought and has brought 
in readers from almost every religious denomination, although 
it has also brought in criticism from those who feel that the Bible 
should not be quoted in what they call “something as lowly as a 
comic strip.” 

I think the Peanuts strip itself has changed considerably during 
the past five years. I am probably using fewer gags than ever before 
and am depending on the personalities of the characters to carry the 
strip. I have learned also to trust the faithfulness of my readers, and 
I certainly never expect to please each one every day. I have learned 
to take the risk of using ideas that might be regarded as too “in,” 
knowing that those who understand the idea will be flattered and 
will appreciate it by showing even more attention to the strip than 
they did before. Probably the most “in” idea I have ever used was the 
one where Snoopy was pulling the sled up the hill and when Charlie 
Brown looked down at the sled, he saw that it was named Rosebud. 
I also love to do things that are really kind of silly, like using terms 
such as queensnakes and gully cats but realize that this is very risky 
because if readers are caught in a mood where they do not appreci- 
ate silliness and do not see it in this way, the whole thing is going to 
collapse, but I am convinced that these risks are worth taking, and I 
am fortunate in having editors at United Feature Syndicate who are 
willing to go along with this kind of thing. 


My Life 

I have sent along two photographs, which I hope Jud will print 
because they show what we do around here when we get a little time 
off. Naturally, we have a full skating program here at the arena, and 
we are completely involved with hockey. Therefore, when the ice 
happens to be empty during the day, we all put on our skates and 
rush out and have a quick game. Each of you has a standing invita- 
tion to drop by any time you are in northern California, but please 
bring your skates. We will furnish the hockey sticks. 

Written in response to a request from Jud Hurd, editor of Cartoonist Profiles. 
Charles Schulz, “Charles Schulz and Peanuts,” Cartoonist Profiles, No. 12 
(December 1971), 4-7 

The Christmas That 
Almost Got Stolen 

I t is probably impossible to discuss holidays and children with- 
out talking about school. No matter how much meaning we 
try to put into holiday ceremonies, children will always look to 
these times primarily as a reprieve from schoolwork. 

When I recall my childhood in St. Paul, Minnesota, the memo- 
ries invariably are memories of school. I was not overfond of the 
class routines, but I must admit there was always one project that 
I enjoyed. Just as English class meant the inevitable theme “What 
I Did on My Summer Vacation,” art class always included a project 
requiring us to draw our friends engaged in some form of winter 
activity. Now, in Minnesota this meant that we drew a group of chil- 
dren skating on a pond. This did not mean that any of us had actually 
experienced such an activity; we were city kids, and very few of us 
had ever seen a pond that had frozen hard enough to be skated on. 
But we always tried to depict these scenes, and it was a certainty that 
every child included a hole in the ice out of which projected a sign 
that read “Danger.” Most likely we had seen these in comic strips. 

I noticed that all the kids had trouble drawing those holes in the 
ice. Somehow they just looked like black spots. My own interest in 
cartooning led me to discover that by drawing a double line in the 
ice, one could depict the thickness of that ice. I was very proud when 
the teacher came around and complimented me on my discovery. 


The Christmas That Almost Got Stolen 


This was one of my very few moments of triumph in school. 
Unfortunately, the memory of a Minnesota Christmas that always 
comes back to me has to do with another, less-successful project. 

At the beginning of each December I looked forward to the holi- 
days as happily as any child. I loved the decorations in the downtown 
shopping areas and I eagerly anticipated the gifts I might receive. 
But the best part of the holiday was the knowledge that we would 
have a two-week vacation from school — and how I looked forward 
to that! Inevitably, however, there always seemed to be one teacher 
who could not resist darkening the vacation days with a homework 
assignment, and one particular vacation was spoiled by our having 
to read Silas Marner. Why couldn’t this be read during the regular 
school term? Why couldn’t we be allowed to relax for 14 days and 
read our comic books and our magazines about football and hockey 
heroes? Silas Marner was pure drudgery. 

Now, of course, we all know that 14 days, even to a teen-ager, is 
close to an eternity. There would be no reason at all to begin reading 
a novel during the first few days of vacation, for wouldn’t the vaca- 
tion stretch on forever? And then, of course, as the first week disap- 
peared, why would you want to begin reading the novel during the 
first part of the second week? After all, you had still had seven full 
days. And then as those days disappeared, one by one, and you drew 
near the end of the second week, there was still no reason to panic — 
you had the whole weekend, and anyone who could read reasonably 
fast could surely read Silas Marner over the weekend. So, of course, 
there was nothing to worry about. 

But weekends go very fast, and before you know it, Sunday night 
has arrived. The book has not been opened and there is no possible 
way to finish reading it in one evening. The only thing left is to dread 
Monday morning. 

Why do teachers have to give such assignments? Why can’t we 
read books that are more interesting? Why are teachers so unreason- 
able? Why do we have to go to school anyway? Why do Christmas 


My Life 

vacations go by so fast? Why are Monday mornings the worst kind 
of morning ever created? 

Oh, how I hated to return to school that day! When was I ever 
going to learn? The next time we got an assignment like this, I would 
know better, but it was too late now. I was on my way to school and 
I was on my way to certain doom. 

When I walked into English class that Monday morning there 
was a strange excitement in the room. Our teacher had not shown 
up yet and no one knew why. Then we were given the news. During 
Christmas vacation she had slipped and fallen on the ice and had 
broken her arm. Off the hook! We were off the hook! Our assign- 
ment was canceled and we would not have to finish Silas Marner 
until our teacher returned to school. 

This may not be the kind of memory adults like to think children 
have about Christmas holidays, but I am afraid this is the kind they 

Merry Christmas. If you have any homework, do it early, and be 
careful walking on the ice. 

Charles M. Schulz, “The Christmas That Almost Got Stolen,” Redbook Magazine, 
December, 1976, 92, 94. 

Snoopy’s Senior World 
Hockey Tournament 

1935was a good sports year for me. That summer I saw my first pro- 
fessional baseball game, and that winter I saw the St. Paul hockey 
team play Wichita in what was then the United States Hockey 
League. The hockey we played as kids in our neighborhood was on 
either a ridiculously small rink that my dad made for us in our back- 
yard or else out in the snow-covered street. The goals were always 
two clumps of snow, which worked quite well until an inconsiderate 
woman driver crushed them as we all stood to the side yelling rau- 
cous remarks. 

Our house had a typical Minnesota basement, and beneath the 
stairs there was an area that was just wide enough to simulate a 
hockey goal. I had a very accommodating 65-year-old grandmother 
who was willing to stand in the goal with a broom while I shot ten- 
nis balls at her. She really knew nothing about sports, but loved to 
follow the accomplishments of the local teams. Her favorite heroine, 
of course, was Patty Berg, even though she never understood golf 

Many years later, my own family and I made our big move to 
northern California. For a long time, our only regret with this move 
was that we could no longer keep up our ice skating. Rumor had it 
that across town there was an arena, which we finally visited one 
night and eventually renewed our skating. Just as our two boys began 
to develop a few hockey skills, and our two youngest girls discovered 



My Life 

the excitement of show skating, the arena developed structural dif- 
ficulties and had to close. I remember remarking to my wife, “I wish 
there were something we could do about it,” and she answered, “I 
was hoping you would say that.” 

Two years later, the community saw the completion of what has 
been described as the world’s most beautiful ice arena. It is dedi- 
cated to the public’s enjoyment of skating. We have our serious skat- 
ers, of course, and we put on the most extravagant and beautiful ice 
shows that you can see anyplace. We even hold symphony concerts, 
and after covering the ice we hold an annual women’s tennis tourna- 
ment with such greats as Billie Jean King, Rosie Casals, and Virginia 

What has become probably our most looked-forward-to event 
each July, however, is Snoopy’s Senior World Hockey Tournament. 
I recall this past summer, standing by the rail with a man who for- 
merly played in Czechoslovakia. He remarked, “I stood here for nine 
years waiting to be old enough to play in this tournament.” Our min- 
imum age bracket is 40, and we play in five-year brackets, going on 
up to what next year will be our first 65-year-old bracket. The men in 
that age group have been complaining that they are tired of “chasing 
those 60-year-old kids around.” 

Our gratitude toward the men who come all the way across our 
country and from Canada, or even from Finland and Japan, makes 
us try to put on the best tournament we can. We host an outdoor 
barbecue, and on Saturday night, before the Sunday finals, we have 
entertainment for the men and their wives, which includes a dance. 
The actual play during the tournament is typical of senior hockey, 
which means no body-checking or slap shots. Actually, we some- 
times feel this produces a better brand of hockey, for the emphasis 
then turns toward fast skating and good passing plays. Our more 
fanatic spectators appreciate being able to see many of the former 
National Hockey League stars who have now entered senior life but 
still put on marvelous exhibitions of their talent. 

Snoopy's Senior World Hockey Tournament 


Strange things do happen, of course. My team — and I use the 
expression humbly — was suiting up a couple of years ago when we 
heard that the goalie, who was in action in the game in progress, had 
just hurt his leg. His team had no substitute, but the goalie whose 
team we were preparing to play was suited up and ready to go. He 
went in as a substitute, but found himself in a much faster game 
than the one he was prepared for. His team was composed of men 
over 60, and he now found himself in a tie game of men in their 
40s. He put on a superb performance, however, and shut out the 
opponents for the remainder of the third period and then the five- 
minute overtime. His new teammates pounded him on the back 
and congratulated him for his heroic goaltending. The next game 
he started against our team, which then went out and scored nine 
goals against him. This is what can happen in Snoopy’s Senior World 
Hockey Tournament. 

It takes the work of 50 to 100 dedicated volunteers to put on our 
tournament, but I believe the joy that we get seeing the excitement 
of the games makes it worthwhile, and I have said many times that 
these seniors deserve something in return for what they have put 
in toward youth hockey. Almost all of these men work as coaches or 
referees at arenas were they come from, and this helps to repay them 
for their dedication. 

It is time now, of course, to begin planning for our 11th tourna- 
ment, and I imagine we will all have at least 40 teams. Each year 
we wonder if we can surpass our last year’s event, but somehow it 

Charles M. Schulz, “Snoopy’s Senior World Hockey Tournament,” Christian Science 
Monitor, November 28, 1984, 42. 

I’ll Be Back in 
Time for Lunch 

S ometimes it takes me a long time to come to certain con- 
clusions. I have been drawing the Peanuts strip for almost 
35 years now and, of course, have had many strangers visit 
my studio. They look at all the books in my room and at a beautiful 
glass-top desk, given to me by my wife as a wedding present, upon 
which I place the strips after they have been drawn. They then look 
at my drawing board and express amazement that this is the actual 
board at which I sit and draw the strips. I often wonder whether they 
think that it is there merely as an exhibit and that the real board, 
some mysterious object, is hidden away in another room. 

Inevitably, the conversation turns to how far ahead I work. When 
they learn about the six-week daily-strip deadline and the 12 -week 
Sunday-page deadline, a visitor almost never fails to remark: “Gee, 
you could work real hard, couldn’t you, and get several months ahead 
and then take the time off?” 

Being, as I said, a slow learner, it took me until last year to real- 
ize what an odd statement that really is. You don’t work all of your 
life to do something so you don’t have to do it. I could talk about 
Beethoven knocking out a few fast symphonies so he could take 
some time off; or Picasso grinding out a dozen paintings so he could 
go away, but the comparison would obviously be pompous. 

We live in a society that worships vacations. It seems that I have 
not learned the proper technique. I do remember, of course, how I 


I'll Be Back in Time for Lunch 


looked forward to Christmas vacations when I was in school, and 
Army furloughs were something to be really cherished. Now, how- 
ever, things have changed. 

My father ran a barber shop in St. Paul, Minnesota, for 45 years, 
and I do not recall him ever taking a real vacation. Frequently, on 
Saturday nights after he closed the shop, he, my mother and I might 
drive to some lake in northern Minnesota for a weekend fishing trip. 
I was not much of a fisherman, but it was the one sport that he loved 
and that he and my mother could share. His excuse for these mini- 
vacations was that he could not afford to take off from work, and, 
during those Depression days, he was mostly right. As I look back, 
however, and put a few conclusions together, I have decided that he 
simply had a fear of travel. 

Somehow, I think, that I have, perhaps, inherited the same fear. 
In spite of this, my wife and I and sometimes other friends have trav- 
eled to Europe, where we have watched the matches at Wimbledon 
and have toured the various sights around London and certain areas 
of France. A very emotional trip back to Normandy included visits to 
Omaha Beach and to a chateau near Rouen. I also enjoyed very much 
a trip down the Rhine from Basel, Switzerland, to Amsterdam, for I 
was anxious to see what the area around Remagen looked like. When 
our outfit crossed the river toward the end of World War II, it was 
dusk, and we had no idea of the appearance of the landscape. Thus, 
these vacations have included some marvelous highlights. 

When I have felt uneasy while traveling, I have tried my hand 
at outdoor sketching. Although I never draw merely for the fun of 
it, I am always amazed at the joy and relaxation it can bring — even 
though most of the felt-pen sketches that I do on these trips never 
really amount to much. 

This uneasiness at being away from home has been diagnosed as 
a fear of being out of control. Perhaps that is why some of the shorter 
vacations, such as simply going down to play in the annual Crosby Pro- 
Am, bring me such satisfaction. I have done it often and I am among 
friends, and there is a wonderful gratification in being invited. 


My Life 

Several years ago, I drew a strip where Charlie Brown’s little sis- 
ter, Sally, said that she didn’t mind going on any kind of a trip as long 
as she could be home by noon. I think I know how she feels. 

When others tell me that they are going off on a two-week or 
two-month journey, I have a difficult time comprehending just what 
it is they are going to do for all that time. How do they actually get up 
in the morning without having any particular assignment? I think 
that I can learn to do this. I know I am trying. But then, there are 
always those daily strips and those Sunday pages that have to be 

It is a problem, but I am working on it. 

Charles M. Schulz, “I’ll Be Back in Time for Lunch,” Los Angeles Times, March 17, 

The Fan: 

Baseball Is Life, I’m Afraid 

By Charlie Brown 

B aseball is life, I’m afraid. Well, I love baseball. I suppose 
I love it so much because I love standing on the mound 
where I can look over the whole game and field and feel I’m 
in control. What a beautiful feeling that is, wow! 

I admit, however, I don’t have much to be proud of. I have a 
dog at shortstop whose big fantasy is to play hockey, of all things, 
against Wayne Gretzky. I have this kid at second base who holds a 
security blanket. Then I have Lucy, who’s probably the worst right 
fielder in the game. The only good thing she has are excuses. She 
either gets clouds in her eyes, or she says, “The grass got in my eyes.” 
It’s gotten to the point that I’m actually looking forward to what her 
next excuse will be. 

Schroeder, of course, is my catcher. Things are so bad with my 
team that he doesn’t even give me signals. He knows that the other 
teams don’t care what I throw anyway. 

None of this really matters, though. It doesn’t even bother me 
that my team doesn’t have a name, or that we use old motel pillows 
for bases. 

The game of baseball, and me being a pitcher — those are the 
things that count. With me as the pitcher, and, of course, the man- 
ager, I call the shots over my life, and isn’t that what all the people 



My Life 

want? Even though having control over my team is like having con- 
trol over nothing, I still love the game — it has a beauty you don’t 
find in other sports. 

That’s why my dream has always been that someday I’d be at a 
major league game, and someone would hit a foul ball and I’d make 
this spectacular, totally incredible catch. Then the manager of the 
home team would come out of the dugout and say, “Sign that kid up, 
fast.” I was telling this to one of my friends, and you know what he 
said? Well, he told me, “Yeah, yeah. You and about 20 million other 

I’m a hero-worshipper, and there’s so much about the game 
that’s heroic — making diving catches in the field, leaping up against 
an outfield wall to make a game-saving catch, hitting a home run, or 
even striking out one of Peppermint Patty’s kids from across town. 
Too bad all those things are just fantasies of mine. My team is so 
bad, we don’t even have uniforms. And you know what Patty once 
told me? She said she could never marry anyone she could strike out 
in three straight pitches. 

I’d like to be a strikeout king myself. I’d love to have a change of 
pace, but as it turns out, every pitch I throw is the same. Schroeder 
once walked out to the mound and said, “I like that slowball you just 
threw.” He knows how to hurt a guy. I was throwing my fastest, fast- 
est fastball. 

The other thing that makes baseball great is you have an entire 
team to root for, you can pick your heroes from a whole group of 
guys. Baseball is a game that builds heroes — and also goats. So far 
I’ve only been a goat. 

I think my best talent is avoiding those line drives that whiz 
by the mound. They could tear off my shoes, socks, hat, shorts, 
everything. The complaint is that it would take me too long to get 

Don’t’ get me wrong, I look forward to playing. But the baseball 
season is hard on me. I don’t sleep at night thinking about the next 
day’s game. My sister Sally even asked me once if I was superstitious 

The Fan: Baseball Is Life, I'm Afraid 


like other players. I said, yes. She said, “What difference does it 
make? You always lose anyway.” That’s the way little sisters are. 

Unfortunately, in a way she’s right. All winter I got ready for the 
season looking at our team’s statistics — who got the hits, who drove 
in runs. It’s surprising how fast I did this. We never get any hits. 
Errors is our big column. 

What’s great about baseball is that it can be enjoyed in Yankee 
Stadium or on a field near a picnic area. Baseball has all of these 
marvelous levels that truly make it the national pastime. 

I like the fact that baseball doesn’t have to be totally organized, 
that a group of people can grab their gloves, virtually anyplace, and 
have just as much fun, if not more, than in the games played at 
Dodger Stadium. 

Baseball sort of reflects the problems we have in our lives — 
fear, loneliness, despair, losing — all these things can be talked about 
through the medium of baseball. That reminds me of what Linus 
once said to me: “Baseball is a caricature of life.” I looked at him and 
said, “Gosh, that’s a relief. I was afraid it was life.” 

Charlie Brown [Charles M. Schulz], “The Fan: Baseball is Life, I’m Afraid,” Inside 
Sports, May, 1985, 82. 

Comic Inspiration 

I ’m not often asked where I get my ideas for drawing Peanuts, 
like that little French cafe where Snoopy sits and passes the 
time talking to the waitress. I don’t know exactly where that 
idea came from — drawing a comic strip is sort of a mysterious pro- 
cess — but I have been to Paris a few times over the years. 

During my last visit, the Louvre put on a one-man show with 
the original artwork from about 80 Peanuts strips. The French gave 
me a nice medal, and I was awarded the title of Commander of Arts 
and Letters — not bad for a guy who just draws a dog and little kids 
with big heads. 

As a celebration, my family and I had dinner at Maxim’s. Even 
though I’d eaten there once before, the whole experience was some- 
thing of a mystery: You’re not quite sure what you’re ordering, you 
don’t know what anything costs, and everything is pompous. But 

dining at Maxim’s is one of those expe- 
riences everyone should have at least 

I’d visited France long before that, 
during World War II, when my squad 
got off the troopship in February 1945 
and was stationed briefly at a chateau 
near Rouen — the Chateau Malvoisin, 
which means the “house of the bad 
neighbor.” I used to think and dream 
about that building all the time. It was 


My Life 

gray stone, with a stone wall around it forming a paddock where my 
squad set up camp. 

A few years ago I went back to see the chateau, and there I got 
the idea for the movie Bon Voyage, Charlie Brown, where Charlie 
Brown and his friends go to France as exchange students. Naturally, 
they spend a night at the chateau. 

It’s funny how images from your travels stick in your mind. The 
first trip I remember was when I was six. I grew up in St. Paul, Min- 
nesota, where my dad had a barbershop. (Charlie Brown’s dad is also 
a barber.) My father decided to move to Needles, California, so we 
piled into our 1928 ford and drove across America. 

We camped out every night; I used to wonder what it would be 
like to stay in a hotel. We either pitched a big tent in a campground 
or stopped overnight in what they called tourist cabins. Each one 
was just a box with nothing in it. It was the era when Americans first 
took to the highways to see the country. Along the road I remember 
standing on a picnic table and getting my first glimpse of the moun- 
tains far in the distance; I suppose they were the Rockies. I can still 
see them. 

Finally we arrived in Needles on a very hot night — most nights 
in Needles are very hot — and we lived there for a year. In my comic 
strip, Snoopy’s brother Spike lives near this same desert town, where 
we usually see him sitting by a saguaro. But I didn’t get my idea of 
his surroundings from childhood memories. Mine is just a cartoon 
desert, a made-up place. 

Most comic strip ideas are like that. They come from sitting in 
a room alone and drawing seven days a week, as I’ve done for 40 
years. And some things from my travels would never fit into Peanuts 
anyway. I’ll never forget a cruise my daughter and I took with three 
other couples to Puerto Vallarta, Mexico. When our ship docked, a 
friend and I went for a lunchtime stroll through the picturesque sea- 
side town — and bumped into Elizabeth Taylor and Richard Burton. 
It’s hard to believe, but they invited us up to their home and showed 

Comic Inspiration 


us around. I remember that the house was hung with paintings and 
had lots of open windows. 

It was quite an experience. After all, is there a man on earth who 
wouldn’t like to spend 20 minutes with Elizabeth Taylor? But I don’t 
think we’ll ever get to see it in Peanuts. 

Charles M. Schulz, “Comic Inspiration,” National Geographic Traveler, July/August 
1991, Z. 

Don’t Grow Up 

A n astounding thing has been happening to me the last couple 
of years. People come up to me and say: “Are you still draw- 
ing the strip?” I want to say to them, “Good grief — who else 
in the world do you think is drawing it?” I would never let anybody 
take over. And I have it in my contract that if I die, then my strip 
dies. This is what my children want, too. They said, “We don’t want 
anybody else drawing Dad’s strip.” 

People also ask me if there’s any message or theme to Peanuts. 
I suppose it might be that Charlie Brown, in spite of always losing, 
never gives up. But really, I never think about that. I just think about 
how I’m going to get two or three more good ideas. I draw from day 
to day. 

You see, I work just as hard now, if not harder than I ever have. 
I think I’m more particular about what I do. My drawing is so much 
better now — in spite of the fact that I keep reading in articles that 
I’m not as good as I used to be, and that some people even say I 
should quit now before the strip deteriorates. But that’s nonsense. 
I think that if a person maintains decent health and can handle the 
grind, then this is one of those professions where you should get 
better all the time. 

My biggest worry is that I could use up my life. I could use up 
everything that I have experienced, all the thoughts that I’ve had 
about playing baseball when I was a kid and playing hockey and 
falling in love and being rejected, and all of the other things that 
happen to us throughout our lives. As you get older, you draw upon 


Don't Grow Up 


these experiences and use them all up until, finally, you’re just doing 
the same things over and over and over. 

I also have a great fear of becoming boring. There are a lot of 
boring people around, and unfortunately I think older people can 
become boring very easily. The way to prevent all that, I suppose, is 
by maintaining an interest in others and forgetting about yourself. 
It’s a great crime to only talk about yourself all of the time and not 
express curiosity about other people. 

I have found that simply asking other people about themselves 
can be quite fascinating. My wife, Jeannie, is good that way. It’s a 
little sad, but I find that when she and I are out to dinner with other 
people, we seem to be the ones asking all the questions. We’ll say, 
“Oh, where were you raised?” Or, “What did your father do?” And 
oftentimes when we get home at night, I’ll say, “You know, Jeannie, 
you and I were the only ones that asked any questions. Nobody ever 
asked me anything.” 

I gave a lecture once, to a group of selected high-school stu- 
dents. I said, “Go home tonight and ask your parents where they 
met. Ask your dad what he did in World War II. Ask your mom if 
she went to the high-school prom. Talk to your grandmother, and 
don’t just let the thing die, pursue the questioning. Do it now before 
it’s too late.” It’s this kind of thinking that promotes cartoon ideas. 
Anybody can think of shallow cartoon situations, but I’m always 
trying to pursue something a little bit deeper. I suppose we’re all 
at the mercy of the medium in which we work, and a comic strip 
doesn’t give you that much room for a topic like death, but it can be 
there if you work at it. 

I think you also have to make an effort to stay open to the world. 
I read a lot. I don’t read simply for research or to get ideas; I read 
because I enjoy it. I took a college course in the novel a few years ago, 
and oddly enough I got an A in it. When I was a kid, I was a lousy 
student, the way Peppermint Patty is. I never knew what was going 
on, never did my homework, never did the reading assignments. 
This time I did all the reading and wrote a paper on Katherine Anne 


My Life 

Porter’s book Pale Horse, Pale Rider. As I wrote it, I pretended I was 
writing for The New Yorker. Afterwards, the professor said to me, “I 
just want you to know that this is a perfect example of what a paper 
should be.” 

I also sit in front of the TV, but I don’t really pay all that much 
attention to what I’m watching. I flip through all the channels. I’ll 
start at 2 and go up to 60, and then when I hit Northern Exposure, 
I’ll watch until Janine Turner is on. When she’s not on anymore, I’ll 
switch away again. (We almost met last year, but it didn’t work out — 
and I was just crushed.) On the sitcoms, well, all everybody does is 
feed each other gag lines. They don’t converse. Oh, and Jeannie and 
I always watch Jeopardy while we eat together. We try to get that last 
question. Once I was a whole category! 

More seriously, I think that there is real danger of people think- 
ing that what they see on TV is real life. From watching all the crime 
shows that are on these days, you get the impression that crime is all 
around us. Every time a woman pulls her car into a driveway, she’s in 
grave danger. Crime just can’t be that prevalent. 

I’ve always liked the funny papers. I’m a great admirer of certain 
strips, like Mutts, Rose Is Rose, For Better or For Worse, and Cathy. I 
hold in complete disdain others that aren’t any good or whose artists 
don’t seem to be putting in the effort they should. 

I think one of the other things that helps me keep in touch is 
the ice arena across the street, which I built 25 years ago. The place 
always has been a wonderful mixture of people, from little tiny kids 
up to old people. I go there every day, and I do hear things now and 
then. In fact, that’s where I first heard the expression “Joe Cool,” 
which is how Snoopy happened to become Joe Cool from time to 

I never envision my characters growing old, though a couple 
of them have changed over the years. Charlie Brown, especially, 
has grown less sarcastic, more gentle. Sally has become much more 
important. She’s developed a personality all her own. She’s either 
very bright or very stupid. It’s hard to figure out sometimes. 

Don't Grow Up 


Maybe the real secret to not getting too old is not to grow up. 
I’m not a complete grown-up, really. I find that I still feel out of place 
most of the time. At different times I’ve had trouble traveling and 
become almost agoraphobic. I’m always insecure. I think I’ll always 
be an anxious person. Somebody asked me in an interview recently, 
“What are you anxious about?” I said, “If I knew, I wouldn’t be anx- 
ious anymore.” 

I have some very good friends in different professions, and I was 
just with four or five of them a couple of weeks ago. One of them 
was having a birthday, and we all went out to lunch. And I suddenly 
realized that I felt a little bit out of place. See, I’m not a business- 
man. I don’t know anything about financial affairs or banking or 
what attorneys do or things like that. All I know is cartooning, golf, 
hockey, books and reading, and a few more things like that. So it’s a 
joy to me when I find somebody that I can relate to. 

I’m not Catholic, and I never will be, but right now one of my 
best friends is a Catholic priest. We play golf together every Thurs- 
day. And I have more fun with this guy, because he is extremely 
broad-minded. He knows my fondness for theological thinking and 
spiritual searching and all of that. And I can talk these things over 
with him. 

Am I a religious man? I’ll have to let someone else judge that. 
I’m a firm believer in the Kingdom of God, but I don’t know about 
the afterlife — that baffles me. I think life is a total mystery. I have no 
idea why we’re here, where it all came from or where we’re all going, 
and I don’t think anybody knows. 

But here’s one of the things that helps me, personally, to sur- 
vive. Years and years ago, when I was living in Minneapolis, I met a 
man who played first viola for the Minneapolis Symphony. And in 
one of our talks he said to me, “You know, playing the viola to me is 
a lot like a religion.” And I thought, that’s nonsense. What does he 
mean by that? 

But as the years went by, I could almost say that drawing a comic 
strip for me became a lot like a religion. Because it helps me survive 


My Life 

from day to day. I always have this to fall back upon. When every- 
thing seems hopeless and all of that, I know I can come to the studio 
and think: Here’s where I’m at home. This is where I belong — in this 
room, drawing pictures. 

Andy Meisler, “Don’t Grow Up,” New Choices, June 1995, 56-5). 

My Shot: Good Grief! 

G olf has always been a big part of my life, ever since I was 
eight years old, watching the Bobby Jones films at Saturday 
matinees, caddying at Highland Park in St. Paul, and even- 
tually playing in what we still like to call the Crosby. I’m still sad that 
last week, for the first time in 37 )ears, I wasn’t invited to play. 

For a die-hard amateur such as myself, teeing it up on the 
Monterey peninsula with the world’s greatest players was always a 
huge thrill. My first Crosby, in 1963, was the most memorable. I was 
paired with Peter Marich, and I shot 34 — my best score ever for nine 
holes — on the front nine at Monterey Peninsula Country Club. Peter 
and I went on to finish ninth, the best I ever did. 

I have so many wonderful memories from the Crosby. There was 
the birdie I made at Pebble Beach’s brutal par-4 8th hole in 1981, and 



My Life 

the five- wood second shot to the 15 feet at Poppy Hills’s par-5 12th in 
’93. (I missed the eagle putt, but we don’t have to talk about that.) 

I was so in love with the tournament that even quadruple bypass 
heart surgery didn’t stop me from playing. I had the operation in Sep- 
tember 1980, and five months later reported to Pebble Beach, where 
I learned that Kathy Crosby had paired me with Johnny Miller. It 
was the first time I had teamed with a superstar. “Anybody willing 
to play after having bypass surgery deserves a good partner,” Kathy 
told me. 

This year I’m told Snoopy was flying the MetLife blimp over 
Pebble Beach looking for me. Too bad I didn’t get invited. I’ve been 
playing pretty well and might have won. 

Charles M. Schulz, “My Shot: Good Grief!” Sports Illustrated, February 15, 1999, G9. 

A Morning Routine 

I usually drive to our ice arena in the morning, where I have an 
English muffin and some grape jelly and a small cup of coffee. I 
love to read the morning paper at that time of day. As soon as 
I get out of the car, there are two dogs who realize that it is me. They 
live in a rented house on the corner, and as soon as I begin to walk 
toward them, they come running to the fence. One is a huge black 
Lab and the other is a very small dog — not quite a beagle — but very 
small and perky, and they immediately recognize me. I don’t know if 
it’s the car they recognize or if it’s me. 

Our veterinarian says that dogs observe the way you walk, so 
there is something about my appearance, even from a distance, that 
they recognize. They know I have a doggie biscuit for each of them. 
As I approach the fence, the huge Lab jumps high in the air, bound- 
ing with great delight at the prospect of this cookie. The other little 
dog sometimes barks, but most of the time comes close to the fence 
with his tail wagging furiously. 

I always talk to them. I always say, “Hi, dogs, how are you today? 
I got the cookies.” I walk up to the fence and the little dog moves 
down the fence a little bit so the big one won’t get too near him, and 
I lean down and I say, “Here is a cookie for the little dog.” And then 
the big dog looks up at me and I give him his doggie cookie. What 
is so pleasing is that as he puts the cookie in his mouth, he looks up 
at me, and our eyes meet. There is something about this that brings 
great joy to me. 



My Life 

I then walk across the sidewalk to the arena where I have the 
English muffin and the cup of coffee. It is a highly recommended 
program that I would suggest to anyone. Either get your own dog or 
make friends with some neighborhood dog. You will find it extremely 

Charles Schulz, unpublished undated typescript. 

Questions about 
Reading That Children 
Frequently Ask 

#1 - What was your favorite hook as a child? 

It is difficult for me to single out one favorite book, as I have read 
and enjoyed many over the years. As I think back to some that I read 
as a young boy, one that comes to mind is Hans Brinker by Mary M. 
Doge. I have always been fascinated by ice skating and I think that 
it must have been a thrill for the kids in Holland to skate down the 

b b b 

#2 - How does reading help with your career or hobbies? 

I am always looking things up and double-checking information. If I 
don’t know something or I am not sure about something, I look it up 
or research it. Reading helps me to gain knowledge that helps me in 
creating my comic strip. 

b b b 

#3 - What is your favorite book as an adult? 

I have read and enjoyed a great many books down through the years. 
One favorite is My Last Million Readers by Emile Gauvreau. I like this 



My Life 

book because it relates stories of early newspaper wars and begin- 
ning careers of various newspaper columnists and cartoonists. I have 
always regretted that I never had the chance to meet the author. 

b b b 

#4 - Who is your favorite author? 

F. Scott Fitzgerald. I have read almost everything Fitzgerald wrote 
except maybe a few short stories. The Great Gatshy is one of my 
favorite books, although it took about four readings before I under- 
stood it. 

b b b 

#5. What advice would you give to our class about reading? 

Read, read, read! The more you read, the easier reading will become. 
The more you read, the more knowledge you will gain, and finally, 
reading is enjoyable. There are so many places you can visit, expe- 
riences you can experience and people you can meet, all through 

Charles M. Schulz, “Questions About Reading that Children Frequently Ask,” 
undated printed sheet. 

This page intentionally left blank 



Developing a Comic Strip 

O ne of the hardest things for a beginner to do is merely to 
get started on his first set of comic strips. It is strange 
that most people who have ambitions in the cartoon field 
are not willing to put in the great amount of work that many other 
people do in comparable fields. Most people who have comic-strip 
ambition wish to be able to draw only two or three weeks’ material 
and then have it marketed. They are not willing to go through many 
years of apprenticeship. Now, by this I do not mean that they are 
unwilling to serve the so-called “minor markets” of cartooning, but 
they are unwilling to draw the many, many cartoons that are neces- 
sary even before one can approach these minor markets. 

It is strange that people in other areas of art are willing to paint 
and draw for the fun of it and for the experience involved, but that 
very few cartoonists are willing to draw set after set of comic strips 
just for the experience. We seem to have a tendency to believe that 
all we have to do is perfect our lettering, our figure drawing, and our 
rendering, and then we are all set to go. Nothing could be further 
from the truth. 

There is an area of thought training that has to be worked out. 
I think the beginner should reconcile himself to the fact that he is 
going to have to spend probably five to ten years developing his pow- 
ers of observation and his sense of humor before he is able to ven- 
ture into the professional side of the business. 

Here, of course, I am speaking particularly of the humor strips. 
However, the same can be said of the adventure strips. The men 



—7 SOMc UJINGS ? j — 

© 1956 United Feature Syndicate, Inc, 

Developing a Comic Strip 


who write adventure strips are trained storytellers, and they did not 
arrive at this ability overnight. What, then, can we do to make our 

One of the main things to avoid is thinking too far ahead of 
yourself. Almost all of us have ideas which we think would be great 
for a comic-strip series, but when we attempt to break down these 
general ideas into daily episodes, we find it extremely difficult. This 
is where I think we should begin. Try to think of your daily episodes 
without concentrating too heavily on the overall theme of your 
comic feature. While you are concentrating on these daily episodes, 
trying to get the most humorous idea you can out of each episode, 
you will also be developing the personalities of your characters. You 
will find that ideas will begin to come from these personalities. 

As your ideas develop personalities and as your personalities 
develop more ideas, the overall theme of your feature will begin to 
take form. This really is the only practical way to develop a good solid 
comic-strip feature. 

If you go about it in the reverse manner, you are going to end up 
with weak ideas. You are going to be thinking so much about the gen- 
eral theme of your strip that your daily ideas will become diluted. 

The system that I have recommended will also assure you of 
going in whichever direction your thoughts tend to take you. In these 
initial days of comic-strip work and practice, you must not confine 
yourself to any particular ideas. You must be in constant search for 
the characters and ideas that will eventually lead you to your best 
areas of work. 

The characters that you start out to draw today may not be the 
same characters that you will end up drawing a month or year from 
now. New personalities will come along that you never thought of 
creating at the beginning, and frequently these new personalities 
will take you to completely different places. In regard to the charac- 
ters themselves, it is not advisable to worry too much about their 
development. Let them grow with your ideas. 


My pr o fe SSIo N 

Remember, the one thing, above all, to avoid is the idea that 
you can think about this whole business for a long time and then 
suddenly one day sit down and draw 12 or 24 strips, send them in 
and expect to make your fortune. Some of the things about which I 
have been talking can be illustrated in the four strips that have been 
reproduced here. The ideas in each one of these depend upon the 
developed personalities of the characters involved. Right from the 
very beginning, we had established that Snoopy was a dog who could 
understand all of the things that the children were saying to him. He 
also has a very highly developed sense of intelligence and frequently 
resents the things that the children say about him. He definitely has 
a mind of his own and expresses it in thoughts and action. 

Charlie Brown’s personality goes in several directions. Most of 
the time he is quite depressed because of the feelings of other people 
about him, but at the same time he has a certain amount of arro- 
gance. This is demonstrated in the strip concerning him and Snoopy. 
Generally, however, he is wholly struck down by the remarks of the 
other characters, especially Lucy. She represents all of the cold- 
blooded, self-sufficient people in this world who do not feel that it is 
at all necessary ever to say anything kind about anyone. 

Schroeder is a rather innocent sort of fellow who is completely 
devoted to Beethoven and can sometimes serve as an outlet for 
the expressions of his friends, the way he is doing here for Charlie 

I have always enjoyed working with Linus, who is Lucy’s smaller 
brother, because I like to inject the naive things that he frequently 
comes up with. None of these characters could have done or said 
any of the things in these four strips when it first began, for it took 
many months (and, in some cases, years) for them to develop these 
personalities. This is what I mean when I say you must be patient 
in developing your strip, and not to look too far ahead. Be perfectly 
content to work on the single strip that is now in place on your draw- 
ing board. 

Students always seem interested in some of the practical points 
of reproduction that are involved in various comic strips, so I feel 

Developing a Comic Strip 


that I might comment somewhat on these. Peanuts always is drawn 
with four equal panels so that a newspaper editor can reproduce it in 
three different forms. He can run it horizontally, or he may drop one 
panel beneath another and run it vertically. Also, he may drop the 
last two panels beneath the first two and run the strip in the form of 
a square. Each one of the panels in these Peanuts strips is drawn 'EP/i 
inches high by 6% inches wide in the original. This makes for quite a 
large panel, but I need the working space to be able to get the proper 
expressions and to make my lettering clear. Peanuts has a very great 
reduction and I have to work large in order that the pen lines can be 
made bold enough to stand this reduction. 

I work exclusively with the pen and use the brush only to place 
the dark areas, such as we find here on the dog’s ears, the brick wall, 
and Lucy’s hair. 

I think that design plays a very important part in the drawing of 
comic strips. Design involves not only the composition of the char- 
acters but the proper drawing of the other elements within the strip. 
I have tried to do this in the drawing of the brick wall by making the 
wall itself interesting and by varying the size and color of the bricks 
or stones in the wall. I have also tried to do this in the little bit of 
drapery that shows in the strip where Charlie Brown and Schroeder 
are talking. There is also a rather modernistic painting placed on the 
wall in order to give the strip a little extra design. 

In the last strip, we have the corner of a house and the corner of 
a garage jutting into the panel to break up the square into pleasing 
areas. We also have the introduction of a little birch tree and a very 
small pine tree, which are good items because of their interesting 
designs. This is the sort of thing that you search for all your life, try- 
ing to develop to the highest degree. 

Charles M. Schulz, “Developing a Comic Strip,” written in 1959 for Art 
Instruction, Inc. 


How It All Began 

W hen I was growing up, the three main forms of enter- 
tainment were the Saturday afternoon serials at the 
movie houses, the late afternoon radio programs, and 
the comic strips. My dad was always a great comic strip reader, and 
he and I made sure that we always bought all four of the Sunday 
newspapers published in St. Paul and Minneapolis, Minnesota. I 
grew up with only one real career desire in life — and that was some- 
day to draw my own comic strip. 

Naturally, I was also a Walt Disney fan and could draw quite 
faithfully Mickey Mouse, Donald Duck, the three little pigs, and 
all of the other great Disney characters. I was also much impressed 
by Popeye and used to decorate the covers of my school books with 
drawings of that fabulous character. With me, it was not a matter of 
how I became a cartoonist, but merely a matter of when. I am quite 
sure that if I had not sold Peanuts when I did, that I would have sold 
something eventually, and that even to this day, if I had not yet sold 
something, I would continue to draw because I had to. 



My pr o fe SSIo N 

During the last year I was in high school, I began to take a cor- 
respondence course with Art Instruction School, which is located in 
Minneapolis. I completed their course in two years and then began to 
submit cartoons as all young boys do, but with no success. It was not 
until I returned from World War II that I made my first sale of some 
kid cartoons to our local newspaper in St. Paul. I also was finally able 
to break through in the Saturday Evening Post with about fifteen gag 
cartoons. And then one day in 1949 I sold Peanuts to United Feature 

This is how it all happened, and if I look back upon it now, it all 
seems relatively simple. But I imagine this is because memory has a 
way of knocking off the corners. 

There is no doubt in my mind that drawing a comic strip simply 
has to be the best job in the world. People send you wonderful let- 
ters, the syndicate for which you work sends you enough money to 
live on, and you are allowed to draw all of the pictures that you have 
been wanting to draw ever since you were a little kid. You also are 
given an outlet for all your emotions. From a practical standpoint, 
this is extremely important, for every emotion that you have, plus 
every experience and bit of knowledge which you have acquired, go 
into the creation of a comic strip. 

A cartoonist really possesses a unique combination of talents. 
Actually, it does you no good to be able to draw too well or to become 
too educated. I have frequently referred to the comic strip as a side- 
walk medium. By this I mean that the comic strip appeals to just 
plain people. However, if it is handled in the proper manner, a comic 
strip can burst these traditional bounds and appeal also to people 
who are better educated and fortunate enough to have a more cul- 
tured background. To do this, the cartoonist himself need not be 
extremely educated or cultured but he must possess that rarest of all 
commodities — plain common sense. 

For those who are trying to get into the business, I would like to 
assure you that there is no “catch” to it. There is no definite series of 
steps which you have to take and you certainly do not have to have 

Peanuts — How It All Began 


an “in” some place. All you have to do is be able to draw a comic strip 
which is better than any other now running. I do not even think that 
you have to worry about taking the strip to New York or wherever 
the syndicate may be located, because I am quite sure that submis- 
sions through the mail are examined just as carefully. When you sub- 
mit through the mail, you give the editorial director the advantage 
of being able to study your work at his leisure. 

The best bit of advice that I can give anyone is never to be caught 
without at least one iron in the fire. By this I mean you should always 
have something in the mail working for you. As soon as you complete 
a dozen gag cartoon roughs and send them off to a magazine, you 
should forget about them and begin to work on a newspaper feature. 
If it is a comic strip, as soon as you complete two or three weeks’ 
material, mail it off to a syndicate and once again, forget about it. 
Immediately set to work on a panel feature, for instance, and then 
send that off while you are creating more gag cartoons. Always have 
something in the mail which is working for you. Also, do not ignore 
the minor markets such as your church publications or any small 
newspapers which may be published in your own home town. Do not 
make the most terrible mistake of all, which is to think that you will 
not give these minor publications your best work. In the first place, 
you will be robbing them of what they deserve from you, and in the 
second place, the ideas that you have now which you think are so 
good that they have to be saved or protected for better publications 
may not seem that good several years later. You will be surprised 
how much your ideas improve as you grow older. The ability to draw 
is not the only ability which improves with time. The ability to create 
ideas improves as you yourself mature. 

Charles M. Schulz, “Peanuts — How It All Began,” Liberty, Winter 1973, 14-16. 

© 1995 United Feature Syndicate, Inc. 


S urroundings play a definite role in my kind of creativity. I 
have found from experience that it is best to work in one 
single place and have a regular routine. The beauty of the 
surroundings is not necessarily important. In fact, I feel more com- 
fortable in a small, plain room than I do in a fancy studio. 

My present studio is a very nice little building near the edge of 
Santa Rosa, California, and it suits our needs quite well. We have 
many people visiting us each week, and we need considerable stor- 
age space and a surprising amount of office equipment. When I first 
started drawing cartoons, it never occurred to me that I would some- 
day need such things as typewriters, a Xerox machine, a postage 
meter, and all different types of stationary, mailing tubes, envelopes, 



My pr o fe SSIo N 

and wrapping paper. There are five of us who work at the studio: two 
secretaries, an accountant, and the president of our firm, which we 
call Creative Associates. Evelyn Delgado and Pat Lytle are our two 
secretaries, and Ron Nelson is our accountant who handles all of my 
financial affairs. Warren Lockhart, the president, spends long hours 
helping our various licensees to work together and maintaining 
quality control. It would be very difficult for me to survive without 
the help of these people. 

I have never had anyone work as an assistant on the actual 
comic strip or comic pages, partly because I feel that there would not 
be much for them to do. The drawing is relatively simple because of 
the style I have adopted, and I have too much pride to use anyone 
else’s ideas. 

Our day at the studio begins at 9:00 in the morning, but for 
myself, I find it very hard to get started until the mail has been dis- 
tributed and I know if there are going to be any special projects for 
that day. That means that I rarely begin drawing until 9:30 or 10:00. 
I have also found as the years go by that I am getting to be a very 
slow starter. It is nice to come to the studio in the morning having 
at least one idea to draw, but if there is no such idea, then I have to 
get out my little pad of white paper and begin searching for some- 
thing. Sometimes ideas come very rapidly but, unfortunately, there 
are also days when no ideas come at all. If I could know I was going 
to draw a blank day, then I would go off someplace and do some- 
thing else. But I always hate to stop trying, so I sit there and make 
up little conversations with myself, thinking about the past, draw- 
ing Snoopy and the others in different poses, hoping something new 
will come along. There are days when I would like to draw something 
very philosophical and meaningful, something to touch the hearts 
of everyone, and find it absolutely impossible. One solution I use at 
these times is simply to get back to basics. Cartooning is, after all, 
drawing funny pictures, something a cartoonist should never forget. 
If a cartoonist remains within his own medium, if he does not let 
himself become carried too far afield and always remembers that his 



business is to draw funny pictures, then I believe he will have a mini- 
mum of bad days. 

It is nice to be surrounded by reference books and be where it is 
quiet, but being in the same place each day is more important. When 
I first started drawing Peanuts, I was sharing an apartment with my 
dad on the second floor across the hall from a dentist’s office and 
above a drugstore and liquor store. My dad’s barbershop was down- 
stairs and around the corner, making it very convenient for him to go 
to work each day. I used one of the bedrooms of this apartment as my 
studio and was quite proud of it. When I was first married, we lived 
with my dad and stepmother for a short time until we could complete 
preparations for a move to Colorado Springs. During this interlude, 
I basically drew the comic strip on a card table in the basement of 
my stepmother’s home. In 1951we moved to Colorado Springs, and I 
again tried to work at home in one of the bedrooms, but found it dif- 
ficult to keep a regular routine. When I couldn’t think of any ideas, it 
was too easy to find some distraction around the house. So I rented 
a small room in a downtown office building and worked there for 
almost a year. After we moved back to Minneapolis, I was offered a 
wonderful little room, which we liked to call my penthouse, at my 
former employer’s, Art Instruction Schools. These were happy days 
for me, for I was back with my old friends and in the midst of those 
invigorating surroundings. Eventually, however, we made another 
move, this time to California, where, once again, I had a solitary place 
to work. The property we purchased had a studio on it, which had 
been a photographer’s studio, and was all that any cartoonist could 
ask for. As the years went by and many changes took place among our 
friends and within our own family, my studio location changed again, 
and for approximately a year I actually worked in a small room over 
our ice arena. This became extremely difficult at times, however, for 
there were simply too many interruptions. We had to have a building 
completely to ourselves, so we built the structure I work in today. 

I am not a very patient person when it comes to drawing pic- 
tures, which I have always thought was one of the reasons I became 


My pr o fe SSIo N 

a cartoonist. An illustrator or a painter spends countless hours pre- 
paring his canvas, while the cartoonist merely reaches for a sheet 
of drawing paper. I do very little preliminary sketching and work 
directly upon the smooth-surfaced pen-and-ink paper, where the 
final drawing appears. I believe that as little pencil work as possible 
should go into the drawing, that the cartoonist should draw as much 
as is practical with the pen itself. I do not believe in the term “ink- 
ing in.” This would be an indication of merely following some pre- 
scribed pencil lines, with the inevitable results being less than the 
original sketch. Once I have thought of an idea, I can visualize the 
entire page. Sometimes, if there are as many as ten or twelve panels 
involved, it is necessary to start with the final panel containing the 
punch line, and number the panels backward in order to arrange the 
best spacing. Some ideas also require that the last panel be drawn 
first to eliminate any doubts as to the effectiveness of that final 
drawing. It can happen that I think of an idea, then discover that the 
drawing of that idea is really not practical, or maybe that it cannot be 
drawn as first visualized. It is far better to discover this by drawing 
the last panel first than after the entire page has been completed. The 
last panel in a Sunday comic strip is especially important. When the 
reader first glances at the Sunday pages of the comics, it is very easy 
for his eye to drop to the lower right-hand corner and have the whole 
page spoiled for him. Thus, it is sometimes necessary to try not to 
attract attention to that panel, to make certain that the beginning 
panels are interesting enough to keep the reader from skipping to 
the end. There have been times, for instance, when I wanted to use 
large lettering in the last panel to emphasize something being said, 
but decided not to for fear that the reader would be directly attracted 
to it and see the punch line too soon. 

I do not prepare my continuing stories in advance, but usually 
let the daily episodes take a story where they wish to lead it. I find it 
is much more important to have a good series of daily ideas than to 
have a good story line. A comic-strip artist should never concentrate 
so hard on the story line that he allows his daily episodes to become 



weak. He should never let the reader feel that it is alright if he misses 
the strip for two or three days because he can pick up the story later 
on in the week. This is probably one of the worst things a cartoonist 
can do. 

It took several years for me to develop the knack of present- 
ing short stories. I was already using themes and variations, but I 
believe it was the story of Charlie Brown getting his kite caught in 
the tree that started me off on these stories. He was so mad that he 
said he was going to stand beneath the tree, holding on to the string, 
and not move for the rest of his life. I then had the other characters 
come up to him, one by one, each day and either say dumb things 
to him, or something that would prompt him to answer in a sarcas- 
tic manner. It was a brief episode, but it did attract some attention 
and, I believe, new readers. Since then, I have tried to use stories 
frequently. I find it a good way to think of ideas because once a story 
gets going, all sorts of little episodes come to mind. 

I don’t know which story has been my favorite, but one that 
worked out far beyond my expectations concerned Charlie Brown’s 
problem when, instead of seeing the sun rise early one morning, he 
saw a huge baseball come up over the horizon. Eventually a rash, 
similar to the stitching on a baseball, began to appear on his head, 
and his pediatrician told him it would be a good idea if he went off 
to camp and got some rest. Because he was embarrassed by the rash, 
he decided to wear a sack over his head. The first day of camp, all 
the boys held a meeting, and someone jokingly nominated the kid 
with the sack over his head as camp president. Before he knew it, 
Charlie Brown was running the camp and had the admiration of 
everyone. It seemed that no matter what he did, it turned out well, 
and he became known as “Sack” or “Mr. Sack,” and became the best- 
liked and most-admired kid in camp. Unfortunately, he could not 
resist taking the sack off to see if his rash was cured, and once he had 
removed the sack, he reverted back to his old self. I don’t pretend 
there is any great truth to this story, or any marvelous moral, but it 
was a neat little tale and one of which I was proud. Unfortunately, 


My pr o fe SSIo N 

this kind of story does not come along very often, and I am satisfied 
if I can think of something that good once every year. 

The longest series I have ever done involved Peppermint Patty 
and her ice-skating competition. I was able to stretch it out because 
it allowed me to go in several directions. First, there was the matter 
of her having to practice and of her involvement with her ice-skat- 
ing pro, who was Snoopy. Then there was the making of her skat- 
ing dress, as she talked little Marcie, against her will, into making 
the dress for her. I believe this story went on for five weeks and, of 
course, ended in disaster for poor Peppermint Patty, because the ice- 
skating competition for which she had prepared so diligently turned 
out to be a roller-skating competition instead. 

Pacing is very important, and I usually go back to simple daily 
episodes after completing a story like this. Having many characters 
to work with gives you a broad keyboard on which to play, which I 
believe is important. I think that when you have done a story that 
gets close to realism, that involves the children themselves doing 
things that children are likely to do, then it is best, when the story is 
over, to do something as absurd as Snoopy typing his stories on his 
little typewriter, sitting atop his doghouse. Here, I am able to take 
part in a kind of humor that could not be done under regular circum- 
stances. I can have Snoopy type outrageous puns in stories such as 
the one where he tells of the woman who is afraid to stay home while 
her husband goes on business trips. “I have solved our problem,” the 
man said, “I have bought you a St. Bernard whose name is Great 
Reluctance. From now on, when I leave you, I’ll be leaving you with 
Great Reluctance.” This is the sort of pun that you would never draw 
under ordinary circumstances, but it works very well for Snoopy 
because it falls in with his personality. He has the right combination 
of innocence and egotism to make it work. 

There is sometimes a great temptation to complete one or 
another of the running themes that are in the feature. It is always 
tempting to let Charlie Brown kick the football, or to give in and let 
Schroeder become Lucy’s boyfriend. But this is something that has 



to be avoided. Charlie Brown can never be a winner. He can never 
win a baseball game because it would destroy the foundation of the 
strip. We cannot destroy the caricature of his personality any more 
than we can begin to modify some of his features to make him look 
more like a real little boy. 

Some things happen in the strip simply because I enjoy drawing 
them. Rain is fun to draw. I pride myself on being able make nice 
strokes with the point of the pen, and I also recall how disappoint- 
ing a rainy day can be to a child. When I think back to all those ball 
games that we looked forward to as teenagers, and how crushed we 
were if the game had to be postponed because of rain, it brings to 
mind emotions that can be translated into cartoon ideas. 

I don’t suppose a person has to be too psychologically obser- 
vant to notice that boys play a more predominant role in Peanuts 
than do girls. I have always been self-conscious about this, but, after 
all, I know more about the suffering of little boys growing up than 
I do the suffering of little girls. I think the best of all was the one 
concerning ear piercing. Whenever I become involved in a story like 
this, I do enough research to make it authentic. Phone calls to sev- 
eral different physicians enabled me to find out the problems of hav- 
ing one’s ears pierced and to obtain the opinions of doctors as to the 
advisability of the operation. I was also able to find out the problems 
of infection, pain, and other such things. It was a successful series, 
and one that I enjoyed as much as any. 

Sunday pages and daily strips pose different problems. When I 
first began to do Sunday pages, I found the pacing difficult because I 
seemed to waste too much time getting my episodes started. Gradu- 
ally, however, I began to see what the problem was and since then 
have learned to visualize a story or episode as a whole. I then chop 
off the beginning of that episode to make the action as concentrated 
as possible. In other words, with no time for the children in the strip 
to stand around in the first two or three panels, discussing what is 
going to happen, the action has to begin, in effect, in the middle of 
the episode, and to proceed rapidly. This would not be as true for a 


My pr o fe SSIo N 

comic feature that involves more realistic characters, but it certainly 
is true for a strip like mine, which deals in abstract situations. 

I have found drawing with pen and ink to be extremely challeng- 
ing as well as gratifying. I feel that it is possible to achieve something 
near to what fine artists call “paint quality” when working with the 
pen. It is unfortunate that newspaper reproduction does not show 
off some of the good pen-and-ink or brush-and-ink work done by the 
better artists in our business. The rendering of a comic strip requires 
a good deal of concentration, and when drawing grass, for instance, 
I have discovered that I should be “thinking grass.” If I am drawing 
the boards in a wooden fence, then I should be thinking of the tex- 
ture of those boards if I am to achieve the appearance of that texture 
with the pen strokes. We used to have a little pen-and-ink exercise 
or demonstration that we sent out to the students at the correspon- 
dence school. We would draw three sets of pen lines, starting with 
a very fine set, progressing to a medium set, then ending with very 
bold lines. It used to be challenging to see how close we could get 
those pen lines to each other without having them touch, and to 
see if we could draw a perfect set. Doing this exercise hundreds of 
times helped me to develop the pen technique that I now possess. 
I abandoned the idea of drawing with the brush early in my career, 
even though I had experimented extensively with it and was rea- 
sonably pleased with the results. The characters in Peanuts, however, 
required a much tighter line. 

As the years progressed and my style loosened considerably, the 
content of the strip, as I have tried to demonstrate, also changed. The 
important thing is that throughout the development of the strip, 
style and content have been consistent. I feel very strongly that a 
cartoonist should not overcaricaturize. The reader must be able to 
recognize the expressions on the character’s faces, hence, the degree 
of caricaturization should not be so extreme that various propor- 
tions are distorted beyond recognition. Everything should be based 
on the way things actually look, and the degree of caricaturization 
should be consistent with the weight of the humor. 



People are always concerned with how far in advance a comic 
strip has to be drawn. Syndicate deadlines vary, of course, but my 
schedule calls for the Sunday pages to be delivered in New York at 
least ten weeks ahead of publication date. Anything beyond that is 
for my own good, and I am constantly trying to lap myself. I try to 
build up two or three weeks beyond the syndicate deadline to attain 
a little breathing space. Unfortunately, however, it is a little like run- 
ning up a glass hill, for no sooner does one arrive almost at the top 
when he slides rapidly back down to the beginning. It may take me 
six months to gain a two- or three-week lead, but it seems to take 
only a few minutes for that lead to disappear. The most wonderful 
part of the business is knowing that you are reaching people and 
communicating with them. This is what makes cartooning such a 
rewarding profession. In fact, it need not even be done profession- 
ally, for a cartoon drawn on such a simple thing as a letter to a friend 
can be very meaningful. 

Lately, letters have been coming in to our studio at the rate of 
approximately one hundred per day. This varies slightly according to 
what is going on in the strip or the recent airing of a television show. 
The last time our valentine show was on TV, readers responded tre- 
mendously to the sad plight of Charlie Brown not receiving any val- 
entines at the school party. One time, I draw an episode where Lucy 
had made a kite out of Linus’s blanket and reported to him that while 
flying it, the string had broken and that his kite was last seen flying 
over the trees and off toward the distant horizon. Readers across the 
country had a lot of fun writing to me, reporting that they had seen 
it over their hometown or some such place. One vacationing couple 
reported that they had seen it flying over the Grand Canyon, and 
several people went along with the whole gag by inserting ads in the 
want-ads section of their local newspapers, supposedly telling Linus 
where they had last seen his blanket. 

In 1966, during the month of May, I created a series that, for- 
tunately, disturbed quite a few people. I say “fortunately” because, 
after all, the idea is not only to amuse your readers but to get them 


My pr o fe SSIo N 

so involved with the characters in the strip that they will actually 
become disturbed if they think something bad is going to happen to 
any of them. In this case, Linus and Lucy were to move away from 
the town in which they had been born and raised. No one could quite 
believe that it was going to happen, and when they finally pulled 
away in their station wagon, it seemed to be a sad day for everyone 
involved. Soon the letters and telegrams began to arrive at the stu- 
dio, and suddenly I realized I had made a mistake, for I had already 
decided that they would not be gone very long, that their father 
would change their mind and bring his family back to their old 
neighborhood. I wish now that I had had them stay away for at least 
a couple of months, but I guess I panicked out of fear that I would 
be seriously criticized by subscribing newspaper editors. At any rate, 
when I saw how concerned people really were, I knew I had a pretty 
good thing going. One doctor sent me a telegram that said: HEART- 
YOUNG. PLEASE ADVISE. Another telegram said: PLEASE DON’T 
LET LINUS LEAVE. HE IS LIKE A SON TO ME. I answered that tele- 
gram by telling her, “Don’t panic. Time heals all wounds.” Another 
very nice girl wrote to me saying that she firmly believed that all 
27000 students at Berkeley were extremely upset. I especially liked 
the letter from the girl who wrote to say that her mother had a very 
insecure feeling about the whole situation and that if Linus and 
Lucy did not return to their old neighborhood, their whole family 
was going to crack-up. One young bible-college student from Okla- 
homa sent me a letter on which he had written in very huge letters 
the scream that I use in the strip so often — AAAUGH — and at the 
bottom he added the P.S.: “How many more sleepless nights must I 
spend wondering the fate of Linus and Lucy?? — Help!” I also liked 
the postcard from Redwood City, California, which said, “Fear has 
gripped me at the breakfast table the last couple of mornings. I can’t 
leave for work without knowing what is going to happen to Linus 
and Lucy.” A girl from Stockton wrote, and after expressing her 
worry about the children she added the word “Sob,” repeating it a 



hundred times at the bottom of the letter. Another very nice woman 
from Dayton, Ohio, asked me on a postcard in a most plaintive mat- 
ter, “Why, why have you done this?” and then signed it, “In rever- 
ence for the departed.” When the series ended, and Linus and Lucy 
had finally come back to their original neighborhood, several papers 
made it a front-page story and expressed their relief that the two 
characters were home. I received one particularly interesting letter 
from a woman who said, “Today, here in our household in Georgia, 
you have restored security and a sense of well-being.” 

I am not always prepared for some of the reactions that cer- 
tain strips have brought. In 1970, Linus asked Lucy, “What would 
happen if there were a beautiful and highly intelligent child up in 
Heaven waiting to be born, and his parents decided that the two 
children they already had were enough?” Lucy replied, “Your igno- 
rance of theology and medicine is appalling.” In the last panel Linus 
said, “Well, I still think it is a good question.” I was astounded when 
letters began to pour in on both sides of a subject that I had not 
realized I had touched. It was not my intention to get involved in a 
contraception or abortion debate. My point was simply that people 
all too frequently discuss things that they know little about. For the 
next several weeks I received letters complimenting me on my stand 
on population control, while I also received letters from readers who 
were fighting for abortion. Both sides were sometimes complimen- 
tary, sometimes critical. 

Another Sunday page that stirred up far more trouble than I had 
anticipated showed Sally coming home and saying to her brother, 
Charlie Brown, that she had something to tell him but, evidently, 
did not want anyone else to hear. They went off by themselves and 
hid behind the couch in their living room where Sally whispered 
very quietly, “We prayed in school today.” I have letters from people 
who told me that this was one of the most disgusting things they 
had seen in a comic strip, that they did not think it was funny and 
indeed thought it was extremely sacrilegious. Another woman, writ- 
ing from West Orange, New Jersey said that she thought the page 


My pr o fe SSIo N 

should be hung in the Hall of Fame, adding, “I think it is beautiful, 
and you have our heartiest support.” This page, like the other, upset 
people on both sides of the subject, and also pleased people on both 
sides. Oddly enough, requests began to pour into United Feature 
Syndicate in New York to use reprints of the page to promote the 
fight to reestablish prayer in school, and the fight to eliminate prayer 
in school. The simplest solution was to deny everyone the right to 
reprint the strip. 

In all the years I have been drawing Peanuts, I believe I have 
upset no other professional group more than optometrists. This is 
because every time any of the children in Peanuts have an eye prob- 
lem, they always visit an ophthalmologist. The reason for this is 
that I have several friends who are ophthalmologists, and they have 
acquainted me with the nature of childhood eye problems. In 1966 1 
drew a series of episodes that showed Sally going to her ophthalmol- 
ogist and having one of her eyes patched because “lazy eye” had been 
diagnosed. I immediately received angry letters from optometrists 
who said that she could just as well have gone to one of them as 
to an ophthalmologist. My research disagrees with them. However, 
they are still convinced that it was all a plot to discredit their profes- 
sion, which, of course, is not true at all. I was concerned only for the 

It is extremely important for a cartoonist to be a person of 
observation. He not only has to observe the strange things that 
people do and listen to the strange things that they say, but he also 
has to be reasonably observant as to the appearance of objects in 
the world around him. Some cartoonists keep a thorough file of 
things they might have to draw, such as a child’s tricycle, or perhaps 
some kind of farming equipment. Other cartoonists do a good deal 
of actual sketching. This kind of observing has led me to something 
I can only describe as mental drawing, and at times that has become 
a real burden, for I seem to be unable to stop it. While I am carry- 
ing on a conversation with someone, I find that I am drawing with 
my eyes. I find myself observing how his shirt collar comes around 



from behind his neck and perhaps casts a slight shadow on one side. 
I observe how the wrinkles in his sleeve form and how his arm may 
be resting on the edge of the chair. I observe how the features on 
his face move back and forth in perspective as he rotates his head. 
It actually is a form of sketching and I believe that it is the next 
best thing to drawing itself. But I sometimes feel it is obsessive, 
like people who click their teeth and find that they have to do it in 
even numbers, or people who can’t resist counting telephone poles. 
It may even be some kind of neurosis, but at least it accomplishes 
something for me. 

If you should ask me why I have been successful with Peanuts, 
I would have to admit that being highly competitive has played a 
strong role. I am not one who will rage uncontrollably when losing 
at something, but I must admit that I would rather win than lose. In 
the thing that I do best, which is drawing a comic strip, it is impor- 
tant to me that I win. Each cartoonist fights for attention on the 
comic page. Some get it easily by being given more space than oth- 
ers, and some try to attract attention by using thick black borders 
around their panels, while some try for attention by using dramatic 
areas of solid black in their drawings. I was forced to present a strip 
that was the tiniest on the page, so I had to fight back by using white 
space. On a page jammed with comic strips, a small feature with lots 
of white space attracted attention. Once you get the attention, of 
course, you must retain it with the quality of your ideas, but that 
is your own responsibility. I hope that I am not the kind who grows 
bitter as the years take the inevitable toll on my career. I do know for 
sure that I work very hard to make my comic strip the very best one 
on that newspaper page each day. Whether or not I succeed is imma- 
terial. I know that I really try. You could almost say that I view the 
comic page as a golf tournament or a tennis match, and it is impor- 
tant for me to be in the finals. 

I still enjoy going to work each day, though friends who know 
me well can testify to the fact that I never actually use the term 
“work.” If I have to say that I will not be free to do something on a 


My pr o fe SSIo N 

certain day, I will always put it: “I have to go to the studio and draw 
funny pictures.” It could be a superstition, but I guess it is really that 
I don’t want anyone to think that what I do is that much work. It is 
one of the few situations in my life where I feel totally secure. When 
I sit behind the drawing board, I feel that I am in command. I am 
comfortable in my studio, and I am reasonably proud of many of the 
things that I have drawn. I think that I have done my share toward 
contributing to the advancement of our profession, and this also 
makes me proud. There have been a few regrets, of course. I think 
the fact that the Peanuts strip has always been printed so small (the 
size of the feature was developed to overcome sales resistance during 
a time of newsprint shortage) has contributed toward a dangerous 
and negative trend. Most comic features begin with just a daily run, 
and if that feature is successful the artist is rewarded with a Sunday 
page. There is a real struggle for the limited space that is available in 
the Sunday section of the average newspaper. Years ago, each fea- 
ture covered an entire page of the newspaper. This space has shrunk, 
however, to half pages, one-third pages, and now quarter pages. This 
has made a mockery out of many otherwise fine features. It is like 
putting Cinerama on a ten-inch television screen. And just as I have 
resented the size that I have been forced to work in, I have resented 
the title Peanuts that was forced upon me. I still am convinced that it 
is the worst title ever thought of for a comic strip. 

We have covered the world with licensed productions — every- 
thing from sweatshirts to lunchboxes to toothbrushes — and have 
been criticized many times for this, although for reasons that I can- 
not accept. My best answer to such critics is always that the feature 
itself has not suffered because of our extracurricular activities. I have 
drawn every one of the 10,000 strips that have appeared and I have 
thought of every idea. Not once did I ever let our other activities 
interfere with our main product — the comic strip. Our most severe 
criticism came when we took on the advertising account for the Ford 
Motor Company. For some reason many people thought this was too 
much, but I believe that the ads we turned out were of high quality 



and were dignified. Our television work has always received my clos- 
est attention, and we have even tried to watch carefully to see that 
we had sponsors who would retain the dignity of the feature. It has 
always been a mystery to me how we can be accused of overcommer- 
cializing something that is basically a commercial product. 

But it really does not matter what you are called, or where your 
work is placed, as long as it brings some kind of joy to some person 
someplace. To create something out of nothing is a wonderful expe- 
rience. To take a blank piece of paper and draw characters that peo- 
ple love and worry about is extremely satisfying. I hope very much 
that I will be allowed to do it for another twenty-five years. 

Charles M. Schulz, Peanuts Jubilee: My Life and Art with Charlie Brown and Others 
(New York: Holt, Rinehart, and Winston, 1975), 157-80. 

A Career in Cartooning 

T here is no form of entertainment that comes close to the 
sustaining power of the comic strip. Some of our most suc- 
cessful features have been running for as long as thirty to 
fifty years. This means that generations of people have grown up 
with the characters in the comic strip, and have learned to know 
them as well as their own friends. Readers demand the daily epi- 
sodes with a fanaticism that is unbelievable until it is demonstrated 
or forced into the open by an editor who makes the dreadful mis- 
take of leaving a comic strip out of his paper for one day only to find 
his switchboard deluged with calls, and as has happened, pickets 
walking back and forth in front of his building demanding justice. 
The terrible mortality rate of even some very good television shows 
has emphasized the staying power of the average comic strip. One 
reason for the comic strip’s success in this area is, of course, the 
briefness of the episodes. Where television sets up contributors 
who try to turn out half hour and hour shows weekly, the comic 
feature requires only a moment each day. Beyond this, however, lies 
one of the great truths of artistic endeavor, the value of a single cre- 
ative mind turning out a piece of work. Although many cartoonists 
employ assistants to help them with the various tasks of getting 
the drawings done, these are relatively mechanical, and invariably 
there is one creative mind responsible for each successful comic 
strip. Even the cases where we may have an artist-writer collabora- 
tion, we still are far away from the complicated team efforts that are 
necessary in other entertainment endeavors. 


A Career in Cartooning 


The establishment of a unique character seems to be the most 
important element in creating a successful comic strip. Even when 
the reader is unable to recollect humorous episodes that have 
amused him, he can still tell you all about the lead character in a 
comic strip, and if it is the sort that has a large cast of characters, he 
can tell you about each of them, and he will usually do so with real 
delight. A cartoonist’s drawing style must be pleasing to the majority 
of readers, but one has only to glance through today’s comic pages 
to discover that there is no formula for what is a pleasing style. Even 
what might be called good drawing is not necessary. The only quality 
that is really necessary is “effectiveness.” The cartoonist must have 
a style that works. He must have a style that communicates. He can 
be literate, but he does not have to be a creator of great literature. 
In fact, if he can mirror the language of the man on the street, and 
match it with drawings that are compatible, he is bound to succeed. 
The best cartoonists are also those who recognize the importance 
of giving the reader a little something each day. It is fatal to let an 
episode drag, and it is fatal to imitate other mediums. The squares 
that make up a comic strip are not miniature movie or television 
screens, and they should not be treated so. A cartoonist must work 
within the confines of his own medium, and realize its limitations, 
one of which is obviously the rendition of scenes on a grand scale. 
There are things that cartoon characters can do, however, that live 
actors cannot, and these are the things that the prospective cartoon- 
ist must pursue. The act of a character flipping over backwards in the 
air is always effective. Wild expressions of joy, grief or despair can 
be depicted in a way that a real live actor cannot approach, and even 
the use of lettering in balloons for the dialogue in each strip, which 
on the surface, appears to be limiting, has the advantage of letting 
each reader give his own imagined tone of voice to the characters. 
How can a playwright go wrong when the audience is doing part of 
his work for him? 

In the early days of cartooning, most of the artists got their start 
by working for a newspaper doing whatever chores were necessary 


My pr o fe SSIo N 

or available. There was no real formula for judging what was good, 
and many wild and wonderful styles grew out of this vacant lot of 
pen lines. There was a certain roughness, at times even crudeness, 
that was quite admirable, for it has been lost today. In our era, the 
average cartoonist gets his start by selling to the magazine first, 
and here he all too often falls into the trap of imitating the host of 
cartoonists who draw the same type noses, half closed eyes, and 
smug expressions that we see in practically every magazine we pick 
up. The error here is compounded when the cartoonist gets the 
opportunity to draw a daily syndicated feature, but finds he cannot 
break out of the narrow confines of a branch of cartooning that 
demands anonymous characters. Thus, we have fewer real individ- 
ualists than in former days even though we do have people drawing 
with smoother styles. The modern comic strip also suffers from a 
lack of space. It must be admitted that it makes the job much easier 
from the point of physical labor, but it also forces the cartoonist to 
work with less panels and almost no artistic variety. In the 1930s 
each Sunday comic took up an entire page of a newspaper. Now 
we find some pages holding three features in the same space, with 
the Sunday page becoming little more than an extended daily strip. 
All of this is due, of course, to syndicate competition and a situa- 
tion where newspapers had too little space to give to new features 
because of a newsprint shortage directly following World War II. 
The newsprint shortage has abated, but newspaper syndicate is an 
organization without which the comic strip artist could not really 
exist. It markets and distributes the cartoonist’s work for a share 
of the profits that usually amounts to fifty percent. There are many 
such organizations throughout the country, and they vary in size. 
Some have as many as forty or fifty different cartoon features 
which they sell to newspapers all over the world, while others exist 
on only three or four and sometimes even one. All, however, are 
constantly on the lookout for new material, and a beginner should 
never feel that the field is too crowded or that all the good ideas 
have been used. 

A Career in Cartooning 


There are other branches of cartooning that are as rewarding 
from a creative standpoint as the comic strip, and in some cases just 
as rewarding financially. Editorial Cartooning or Political Cartoon- 
ing as it is most often called requires extreme dedication and more 
than a once-in-four-years interest in our national affairs. Only a few 
of our Editorial cartoonists are syndicated. Most of them work for 
individual papers, and most would stoutly deny that they are forced 
to adhere to the policy of the paper for whom they draw. An Edito- 
rial cartoonist with a few simple lines can clarify an issue that might 
never be possible to explain in a written column. 

Magazine cartooning is a very broad field that extends from 
small publications who can pay only a dollar or two per cartoon to 
a few very sophisticated magazines that pay prices up to and over a 
thousand dollars per cartoon. This field is wide open to the beginner 
because the work is always bought on a free-lance basis. In the small 
markets the quality of the cartoon and its appropriateness to the 
magazine is what matters, not the artist’s reputation or name value. 
Here the beginner should carefully select his markets and try to have 
something in the mail working for him at all times. A beginner can 
make no worse mistake than being caught without an iron in the fire 
which in his case is an envelope of cartoons in the mail. 

The field of animation has changed so drastically with the com- 
ing of television in recent years that it is difficult to write about. The- 
atre cartoons are so expensive to make, and bring such slow returns 
that they have become almost nonexistent. Animation for television 
has developed in a variety of ways. Some of it is vastly inferior to 
what we knew during the days of motion picture cartoons, but none 
have adapted well to the new semi-action drawings, and have actu- 
ally broadened the base of humor. The main producers of animated 
films are located in either Hollywood or New York, and many of 
them do very well turning out wonderfully inventive commercials 
for television without ever doing any entertainment-type films. 

Cartooning as a whole is still one of the most fascinating busi- 
nesses around. One can be the creator of a comic strip running in 

My pr o fe SSIo N 


500 newspapers or one can be an unknown amateur decorating a 
letter to a friend in order to make it more meaningful. In either case, 
the person doing the drawing gets the same satisfaction from put- 
ting down on paper something which he thinks is funny in a way 
completely unique to his personality. He also knows that he is bring- 
ing a smile to someone somewhere, and there are few joys greater 
than this. 

Charles M. Schulz, “A Career in Cartooning,” unpublished typescript dated 
June 16, 1965. 

Why 100 Million of Us 
(GASP!) Read the Comics 

T here is no field of entertainment that has such a large fol- 
lowing, and yet has so little written about it as the comic 
strip. The daily and Sunday page comic strip artists get no 
reviews from discerning critics, and have only letters from readers 
and monthly statements from their various syndicates to tell them 
how they are doing. Thus, when a book is published that calls itself 
The Funnies: An American Idiom, edited by David Manning White and 
Robert H. Abel (Free Press of Glencoe, 1963), a host of cartoonists 
across the land rejoice to see that their neglected medium has been 

As the preface states, this book “stems from a three-year inquiry 
into the whole nature of comic strips and their role in American life 
which was underwritten by a grant made by the Newspaper Comics 
Council, Inc., of New York to Boston University’s Communication 
Research Center.” 

The regular reader of the funnies, of course, has no idea that 
such an organization as the Comics Council exists, and that it came 
into being when some people began to think that the funnies had 
lost their old-time appeal and were no longer attracting advertising. 
Most of us were under the impression that we were doing our job 
when we were drawing features that helped to sell the newspaper. 

Nevertheless, in a fine report, which probably will not be of 
much interest to anyone outside the actual production end of the 



My pr o fe SSIo N 

business, this book notes that “more than 100 million Americans, 
from the very young to the very old, read one or more comic strips 
in their Sunday newspapers, and, of these, about ninety million are 
regular readers.” 

For over 60 years the comic strip has fulfilled the very human 
desire of readers to tear aside sluggish description and get right to 
the dialogue. It has given those readers who are repelled by a huge 
book with no pictures, a story form that has a picture with every 
sentence, and action in every scene. Remarkably enough, it has also 
been able to attract those readers who are not repelled by pages 
of print and who are able to enjoy good reading, for Robinson and 
White tell us that the well-educated are consistent followers of the 
comics. In a chapter called, “Who Reads the Funnies and Why,” they 
discover that “adults like to read funnies, but are ashamed to admit 
it. . . .” Apparently people also think that it is usually those on a lower 
educational or social level who read the funnies, and that they them- 
selves are an exception. 

“In our children’s readership study, just the opposite was true. 
The children perceived the truth: the more highly-educated, the 
occupational elite are among the most avid readers of comics. Con- 
trary to the general adult population’s idea of who reads comics, the 
higher status group readers are the rule rather than the exception. 

In order to make a book out of what was initially a report, several 
articles which are quite dated have been reprinted. Gilbert Seldes’ 
famous discourse on Krazy Kat is very welcome, for it treats well 
what was probably the greatest strip ever drawn. Mr. Seldes, how- 
ever, has not always been aware of other works of art that have been 
produced on the comic page, and here the authors have also failed us, 
for in their quest for illustrations to go with writing, they have not 
given us the work of enough of the original creators of such notable 
accomplishments as Popeye, Bringing Up Father, Barney Google, Moon 
Mullins, or Polly and Her Pals. Many of the men who have taken on 
these strips since the death of the original creators have done good 

Why 100 Million of Us (GASP!) Read the Comics 


jobs, but to give the modem reader no glimpse of the wonderful pen 
lines of these earlier cartoon geniuses is a mistake. 

I, personally, also missed seeing a drawing of good old Captain 
Easy as originally done by Roy Crane. One of the real tragedies of our 
form of art is that characters such as Captain Easy go down to the 
most miserable of all deaths, dying day by day in the hands of those 
who try to perpetuate them. 

An added torture is the placement of these characters into the 
hands of animation studios for afternoon television programs. The 
very short chapter “The Comics as Non-Art” proves nothing, and the 
two last chapters by A1 Capp and Walt Kelly, good as they may be, 
have no place in this volume. They serve only to give you the feeling 
that the book didn’t appear to look quite thick enough. Don’t let this 
bother you, however, for this is still the best book of its kind ever 
written, and no one will be more happy to see it on counters every- 
where than the cartoonists themselves. 

Charles M. Schulz, “Why 100 Million of Us (Gasp!) Read the Funnies,” New York 
Herald Tribune, June 5, 1963. 

Happiness Is a 
Lot of Assignments 

W hen Kirk Polking called to ask me to do this article, I 
was very pleased for several reasons. Ever since I was 
a teen-ager, I have been an avid reader of Writer’s Year- 
book, buying it each season, and devouring every word as I dreamed 
of the day when I would be drawing my own comic strip. Then, too, 
I felt it was about time that I cleared up some of the misconceptions 
that arose when the article appeared about us in the Saturday Eve- 
ning Post (April 25, 1964). This article appeared to have been chopped 
up quite a bit, and out of this there came the impression that I was at 
my wit’s end trying to survive all the pressures, and that my wife is 
a Lucy and that the people at United Feature Syndicate have no idea 
what is going on. Nothing could be further from the truth. Larry 
Rutman, Jim Hennessy, Harry Gilburt, and Jim Freeman of United 
are all men whom I regard as my friends, and we could have accom- 
plished none of what we have if there had not been a very close work- 
ing friendship. The only thing we have ever really disagreed on has 
been the title of the strip, Peanuts. ( Peanuts was originally to have 
been called “Li’l Folks,” but we found that Tack Knight had once used 
this title “Little Folks” so we had to come up with a new one. The only 
thing I could think of, and the one I still would prefer is “Good OF 
Charlie Brown,” but this was vetoed by the syndicate, and from a list 
presented by one of their men, they picked Peanuts which I thought 
was terrible, and still do. It does not conform to the dignity I think 


Happiness Is a Lot of Assignments 


the humor of the strip has.) It has become a running gag with us, but 
certainly no bitterness has ever developed. The important arrange- 
ments that had to be made when we negotiated the Ford advertising 
contract could never have been done by me. Only the experience of 
United Feature’s Larry Rutman and Jim Hennessy made it possible. 
I also am not bothered by the pressures and my wife is no Lucy. 

Many people seem to have received the impression that I am 
somehow attached to or even own Determined Productions which 
published Happiness Is a Warm Puppy. This again is a false assump- 
tion. Our happy arrangement with John and Connie Boucher, the 
real owners, came about because they drove up to my studio from 
San Francisco one day four years ago, and suggested that we do a 
Peanuts Datebook. It was out of the success of this initial venture that 
the later books were written and drawn. We had always had good 
success with our reprint books published by Rinehart and now Holt, 
Rinehart and Winston, but in the back of my mind there always was 
a desire to do more than just a reprint. Connie Boucher discovered 
three or four “happiness” ideas I had done in the daily strip, and sug- 
gested this be the basis of the book. I was rather doubtful that there 
would be enough material here to carry a complete book, but went 
ahead anyway, and no one was more surprised than I at its accep- 
tance by the public. All of the projects with Determined have been 
fun because we make them fun. It is also exciting to do each new 
book in the face of criticism from other publishers who keep telling 
us that we should now be prepared for a flop because you simply can- 
not have two hits in a row, much less three or four. 

The biggest subsidiary sale of Peanuts' career has been, of 
course, to the Ford Motor Company. All of the advertising has been 
handled by J. Walter Thompson Company, and here again the rela- 
tionship has been friendly. Our only stipulation in this contract was 
that the characters in the Peanuts strip would have to retain their 
regular personalities, and this has certainly been done. I have also 
insisted on doing all the drawing myself because I feel that I am the 
only one who can draw Charlie Brown’s head. We received quite a bit 

“How It Feels To Be 
Owned by an Incompetent 11 


My pr o fe SSIo N 

of criticism when this project of putting out Ford ads first began. It 
was difficult to know just why, too, because commercialization of 
comic characters certainly did not begin with us. This has been going 
on since I was born. We could understand, however, the feeling of 
any newspaper editor who might be afraid that now, after all he had 
contributed to making Peanuts known through the medium of his 
comic page, we were going to run off and leave him with an inferior 
product as we gave our best to Ford. I think we have proved these 
fears to be false. I still regard the most important item on my draw- 
ing board to be today’s strip. The managing editor is still our number 
one customer, and we are still in the business of drawing funny pic- 
tures to help sell newspapers. No subsidiary sales will ever take over 
this position. 

Hallmark Cards has also done very well by us. And to reiterate, 
the relationship is a friendly one. Arnold Shapiro, their editor, goes 
over each new card idea with me, and I insist on drawing each one 
myself. This can be difficult when there are syndicate deadlines to 
meet, but it merely means learning how to pace yourself, and learn- 
ing how quickly to get at the solution of problems. There is no time 
here for temperament. Drawings have to be done, so they are done. 
I am still amazed that a person gets his best ideas when he has the 
least amount of time, and how the days slip by with nothing being 
accomplished when there is too much time. 

My religious teen-age cartoons are drawn first for Youth, the 
Gospel Trumpet publication in Anderson, Indiana. They are then 
let out to whatever other church publications want them, and this 
includes quite a list. My only stipulation is that they do not change 
any of the gag lines to suit their own needs. I preach in these car- 
toons, and I reserve the same rights to say what I want to say as the 
minister in the pulpit. I am a fanatic about this. In fact I am a fanatic 
about all my gag lines, and the way all my drawings are handled. 

The usual process for these subsidiary sales is like this. (At least 
this is the way it works when I am contacted first.) Usually I get a 
phone call asking if I would be interested in using Peanuts in a certain 

Happiness Is a Lot of Assignments 


way. (This, of course, eliminates the ones who call and refuse to tell 
you what their idea is over the phone because they are afraid you 
are going to steal it which I am not because it always turns out to be 
an idea for the manufacturing and selling of a Linus Security Blan- 
ket.) If the caller’s idea has any merit at all, I tell him that he first 
has to clear it with Jim Hennessy at United Feature Syndicate. Then 
there must come the stern warning that he is not to call Jim and say, 
“Charlie is all for the idea, and wants to go ahead right away!” I find 
for practical reasons of business with United Features and just as 
important, for my own sanity, that it is best if I enter in no way into 
these negotiations until Jim has cleared all the financial arrange- 
ments. Then I am ready to find out what sort of art is required. 

Last June we completed a TV documentary with Lee Mendelson 
Film Productions which I hope will be appreciated by all those who 
draw cartoons for a living. Besides telling the whole Peanuts story, 
we tried to show a day in the life of a cartoonist emphasizing the 
inevitable moments when you are alone with your creation. It took 
us almost a year to film, and should be shown sometime this season. 
The most difficult portions were the on-camera still drawings made 
to illustrate certain phases of my life. These were shot with the cam- 
era directly over my shoulder and under lights so hot that at one 
time a black crayon I was using actually melted before I could finish 
the cartoon. The best scene in the whole hour show was stolen away 
from me by Willie Mays. There is a beautiful shot of him drifting 
over to his left, and making a catch in center field to demonstrate to 
Snoopy how to catch. Snoopy then tries to imitate him, but catches 
the ball in his mouth. Afterwards, Willie says, “If I had to play for 
that Charlie Brown’s team, I’d quit baseball!” 

Each subsidiary sale we have made has come about because we 
thought it was one which did not cause our initial product, the Pea- 
nuts feature, to lose dignity. They have all been interesting projects, 
and many have brought in good sums of money, but the feature 
itself must always be regarded first. We are still in the newspaper 


My pr o fe SSIo N 

The only drawback to all of this is the tendency now and then 
to have to try to please too many people. When you are doing noth- 
ing but drawing your regular feature, you worry only about getting 
your ideas past your editorial director, your newspaper clients, and 
then eventually your readers, and after several years you develop 
your abilities to do this, but of course, advertising art and book 
publishing bring on new critics, new art directors, and new editors, 
and I am not one who takes these criticisms with their inevitable 
requests for more drawings very lightly. It is also difficult to change 
pace. It is hard enough when you have to do so between daily and 
Sunday features, and it took me three or more years to learn this, 
but it is even harder when you change your creative pace to greet- 
ing cards, automobile ads, and ash trays. The challenge, however, is 
there, and that is what makes cartooning great. Another project, 
another challenge . . . 

Charles M. Schulz, “Happiness Is a Lot of Assignments,” Writer’s Yearbook, 1965 
Edition, 44-46, 153. 

On Staying Power 

idly, but unfortunately, there are also days when nothing comes at 
all, and no matter how hard I try to draw something philosophical 
and meaningful, something to touch the hearts of everyone, I find it 

At times like these, I never stop trying. I sit at my drawing board 
and make up little conversations with myself, searching my past for 
ideas, drawing Snoopy and the others in different poses, hoping 
something new will come along. 

One solution I use when everything else fails is simply to get 
back to basics. Cartooning is, after all, drawing funny pictures, 
something a cartoonist should never forget. If a cartoonist remains 
within his own medium, if he does not let himself become too car- 
ried too far afield and always remembers that his business is to draw 
funny pictures, then I believe he will have a minimum of bad days. 

I am not concerned with simply surviving. I am very concerned 
about improving. I start each day by examining yesterday’s work and 
looking for areas where I can improve. I am always trying to draw the 
characters better, and trying to design each panel somewhat in the 
manner a painter would treat his canvas. 

I am much more particular about ideas than I ever have been and 
almost never accept my first thoughts. More good cartoon ideas come 
out of a mood of sadness than a feeling of well-being. Several years ago, 
some events saddened me to such a degree that almost everything I 

A cartoonist is someone who has to draw the same thing day 
after day after day without repeating himself. 

Sometimes there are days when ideas come very rap- 


On Staying Power 


listened to sent me into a deep depression. In spite of this, I was still 
able to come up with ideas that were not only as good as anything I 
had ever done, but carried the strip forward into new areas. 

If you are a person who looks at the funny side of things, then 
sometimes when you are the lowest, when everything seems totally 
hopeless, you will come up with some of your best ideas. Happiness 
does not create humor. There’s nothing funny about being happy. 
Sadness creates humor. 

In July 1981, 1 woke with a strange tight feeling in my chest. 
Quadruple bypass surgery followed. When I was admitted to the 
hospital, a nurse placed a large felt-tip pen nearby. 

“Before you leave here, we want you to draw something on the 
wall,” she said. 

I am not one who goes around drawing pictures on walls. But I 
felt I had to fulfill this request. 

Late one night during recovery, it came to me suddenly, like 
most cartoon ideas. I climbed carefully out of bed, picked up the pen 
and began to draw a series of Snoopys, showing him struggling with 
an inhalator to make the balls rise to the top. All patients could iden- 
tify with this frustrating exercise. The last panel showed him collaps- 
ing with exhaustion and triumph. 

Surgery was a difficult decision, but there I was, drawing, exhila- 
rated knowing I had gone through something I had not been sure I 
was brave enough to attempt, and that maybe, drawing cartoons was 
what I was meant to do. 

To have staying power you must be willing to accommodate 
yourself to the task. I have never maintained that a comic strip is 
Great Art. It simply happens to be something I feel uniquely quali- 
fied to do. 

One of my favorite quotations comes from S. J. Perelman: “I don’t 
believe in the importance of scale. To me, the muralist is no more valid 
than the miniature painter. ... I think the form I work in has its own 
distinction, and I would like to surpass what I think I have done.” 

Charles M. Schulz, “On Staying Power,” promotional poster for Panhandle Eastern 
Corporation, Houston, Texas, 1986. 

Address to the 
National Cartoonists 
Society Convention 

BRUCE BEATTIE, National Cartoonist Society President: I’d like to wel- 
come all of you to the first of two wonderful seminars this morn- 
ing. It’s my hope that the seminars become a regular feature of this 
convention. I know that we all come here to socialize, but we are 
all resources for one another, and I think we ought to start taking 
advantage of that. 

I can think of no person more qualified to be the leadoff speaker 
for this seminar program than Charles Schulz. He is the winner 
of two Reuben Awards, he has won numerous Peabody and Emmy 
awards, and he is the most widely syndicated cartoonist ever, with 
more than 2,300 newspapers. He has had more than 1,400 books 
published, selling more than 300 million copies in 26 languages — it’s 
just an extraordinary legacy. 

This all began about a few months ago when he was going to 
meet with me and [my wife] Karen at his Santa Rosa studio. I had 
expected to meet Charles Schulz for about 15 minutes; I had expected 
that we would have a couple of photos taken, and then we would be 
shuffled out the door. Instead, he spent the whole day with us. Dur- 
ing the course of that day I began to get to know Sparky, and what 
impressed me about him was, after all of his accomplishments, he is 
still a cartoonist who is doing his daily cartoon. He goes into work 


National Cartoonists Society Convention 


every day like us beginners, and what really impressed me about him 
was the passion and dedication he has for the work and the enthusi- 
asm he has for his work. This is something some of us, I think, lose at 
times. We all want to become rich and successful, and sometimes we 
lose sight of the fact that what it is all really about is cartoon art. 

In short, I came away that day with Sparky an inspired cartoon- 
ist. I really mean that. That’s why I want to have him start the semi- 
nar program today, and I’m hoping that maybe a little of the inspira- 
tion he gave to me will rub off on you. 

b b b 

CHARLES SCHULZ: Last month, [my wife] Jeannie and I took a trip, 
and I played in the Dinah Shore golf tournament, and about the 
second or third evening they had a buffet dinner. We brought our 
food into a room and sat down at a round table and we introduced 
ourselves around. At one point, an elderly woman sitting on my left 
said, ‘“Charles Schulz’ — that’s kind of a nice name, isn’t it?” And I 
said, “I never really thought about it.” And she said, “Isn’t that the 
name of the fellow who’s the cartoonist?” Then she said, “He’s dead, 
isn’t he?” 

To compound the problem, three nights ago, some of the people 
from United Media dropped by Santa Rosa, and we all went out to 
dinner. Afterwards, we were passing out through the entrance, and 
the man at the counter stopped me and said, “There’s something I 
want to tell you — there were two or three ladies in there the other 
night who got into a big argument. One of them said you were dead, 
the other said, ‘No, he’s not!”’ Well, even though I’ve been drawing 
for almost 45 years, I’m still here! 

Back when I used to work at a [cartoon] correspondence school, 
Art Instruction Inc. [in Minneapolis], it was a wonderful place to 
get started because the atmosphere was not unlike that of a news- 
paper office. All the instructors were very bright people; they were 
all ambitious, each of them had his or her desire whether it was to 

National Cartoonists Society Convention 


be a fashion artist, or a cartoonist, or a painter. There was Walt Wil- 
werding, the portrait painter; Frank Wing, the old-time cartoonist, 
sat right in front of me, and he was the one who taught me if you’re 
going to draw something, draw it from life first — you can’t cartoon 
something until you know how to draw it accurately first. Anyway, 
he did a lot for me. Once I got started on the [Peanuts] strip I liked 
working there, because I could go downstairs to the stockroom, and 
I could find nice pieces of cardboard and wrapping paper, and they 
gave me a room to work in after I quit the job as an instructor. I used 
to go down, get the cardboard, fold my strips in half, and then I’d 
wrap them up and take them to a little subsidiary postal office — 
and I did this for several weeks. One morning, I went in there, and 
[the postal worker] looked at me, and the package, and he said, “You 
come in here every week, and this says ‘United Feature Syndicate’ — 
what is that?” I said it was a newspaper syndicate, and they distribute 
and sell comic strips. “Like Dick Tracy?” he asked. And I said, “Well, 
yeah, something like Dick Tracy.” And he said, “Well, where’s your 
Cadillac?” I said I didn’t have a Cadillac, and he asked what was it I 
did draw. “It’s that little strip that runs in the evening paper about 
this kid and his dog” — I never use the name Peanuts, because I hate 
it — and he said, “Oh, I’ll try to read it.” So the week went by, I drew 
another batch of strips and I took them down and handed them in 
to be mailed out, and he looked at me and said, “Oh, I read your strip 
last night — I didn’t think much of it.” 

I was reminded of that incident because a couple of weeks ago — I 
usually work until about 4 o’clock in the afternoon. I just can’t stand 
sitting there any longer; I always like to drop into a bookstore and 
see what new things they have. As I was pulling out of the driveway 
I was thinking that this was a good batch of strips that I drew. And I 
can honestly say that I still get just the same thrill at the end of the 
week when I have drawn that thing from Monday through Saturday, 
and I feel that I’ve thought of some pretty good ideas, and they've 
been drawn the best I can draw them, and it’s a nice feeling to know 
that they’re going to be mailed out and that I have done it again. 


My pr o fe SSIo N 

Because back in Minneapolis, when I went to that little post office, 
I had the same feeling — that I had done a good batch of strips, to 
wrap them up and mail them in and know that I had something the 
best that I could do. 

So the feeling is still there, and I guess it’s going to be 45 years 
next year, and I can absolutely guarantee you that despite what 
some columnist for the Chicago Tribune wrote a few years ago, that 
it’s time for me to retire, that the strip is not good any more, that 
the strip has lost all meaning and everything, I work harder now — I 
truly do — I am more particular about everything I draw than I have 
ever been. I almost never send in anything that I’m not totally 
pleased about. And I am still searching for that wonderful pen line 
that comes down — when you are drawing Linus standing there, and 
you start with the pen up near the back of his neck and you bring 
it down and bring it out, and the pen point fans out a little bit, and 
you come down here and draw the lines this way for the marks on his 
sweater, and all of that. . . . This is what it’s all about — to get feelings 
of depth and roundness, and the pen line is the best pen line you can 
make. That’s what it’s all about. 

If there’s somebody who is trying to be a cartoonist, or thinks 
he is a cartoonist, and has not discovered the joy of making these 
perfect pen lines, I think he is robbing himself — or herself — of what 
it is all about. Because this is what it is! The times you make these 
wonderful pen lines, and make them come alive. I tell people when 
they ask me that the most important thing about a comic strip is 
that it must be fun to look at. If you are drawing something day after 
day after day, no matter how funny the dialogue might be, it still 
must be fun to look at. If the reader picks it up, the reader may know 
absolutely nothing about drawing, but the drawing must be fun to 
look at. I think that’s very important. 

Years ago, I used to gather now and then with some people from 
around St. Paul-Minneapolis and talk about cartooning, and every 
time I would read essays by other people who were more or less 
trying to get started, I used to see the phrase, “This crazy business 

National Cartoonists Society Convention 


about slinging ink.” This is not a crazy business about slinging ink. 
This is a deadly serious business. I’ve always had a wonderful rela- 
tionship with my editors, starting with Jim Freeman, working on 
up, and now I have the best editor that I’ve ever had, Sarah Gillespie. 
I’ve always had a good relationship with the men who were the sales 
managers and the salesmen, and the men who were the presidents 
of the syndicate, starting with Larry Rutman, who treated me like a 
son. Now, I think it’s important for all of us and all of you to estab- 
lish those relationships. But it’s not a business of slinging ink. It’s 
a deadly serious business. And someplace up there [in the corpora- 
tion], there are some people that you will never know existed. They 
don’t care anything about you — so watch yourself. They don’t even 
read the comics. They could not possibly care less what happens to 
you. Sarah Gillespie cares about what happens to you, [and some 
others do]; I don’t know who these people are “up there,” but I’m 
sure that every organization has this group of mystery people up 
there. They are like the people who own a ball club, like the man who 
owns a theater — he doesn’t really care about the actors. He likes the 
bottom line and all that. Those are the people to watch out for. The 
older you get — well, it took me 40 years to discover that. 

I think one of the most dangerous things, as you draw day after 
day after day — and as long as I’m standing here, it’s about time; I 
might as well slip this in — Don’t let them kid you that this is a busi- 
ness that has so much stress that you have to have time off. I was 
talking to a friend the other day, and I said, “You know, cartoonists 
have nothing to complain about. This is what we’ve wanted to do all 
of our lives, and we finally have a chance to do it, we can live any- 
place we want to, we can work any hours we want to, and they send 
us money.” Anyway, anyone who doesn’t want to join the National 
Cartoonists Society is baffling. Someone says he’s not a joiner? I’m 
not a joiner either, I don’t belong to anything, but I think we all have 
an obligation. You know the person you have an obligation to? It’s 
the salesman driving around in his Dodge trying to sell your strip all 
the time. For five years, trying to get some editor, who finally says, 


My pr o fe SSIo N 

“OK, you’ve been after me for five years, I’ll finally give it a try.” You 
better make sure that everything you send in is the best you can 
send in, because you owe it to that salesman who is out there trying 
to sell your strip. 

One of the most dangerous elements in creativity is something 
that took me a long time to discover, and that is the slumps that 
occur in your creativity. This doesn’t mean your ability to think of 
ideas — I probably never go more than one day without really coming 
up with something, and I’ve learned to live with it; I go home kind 
of disgusted thinking, “I never should have come down here today.” 
I’ll sit around with my little attorney’s pad, trying to think up things, 
and I can’t and I actually fall asleep trying to think of something. . . . 
But the dangerous thing — and I have seen it on the comic pages — is 
when you lose the ability to judge what you have done, if you have 
drawn something that is not only a lousy gag or a lousy idea, it’s not 
funny at all — it is not a humorous idea — and you lose the ability to 
judge that. I never give my work to somebody else and say, “What do 
you think about that?” I just don’t trust anybody. If I think it’s funny, 
or if I think it’s silly, I send it in anyway because I’m just trying to 
please myself. I never try to please a certain audience. I think that’s 
disastrous. There’s no way in the world you can anticipate what your 
reader is going to like or dislike. But it is possible, and I think you 
have to be aware of this, you can think of something, send it in — and 
I’ve seen it time and time again, even if I love [the feature], I know: 
there’s a “slump gag.” It’s not funny at all. . . . The cartoonist is grind- 
ing these things out, he thinks something’s funny, and he doesn’t 
know it’s not funny at all. 

I’ve learned a few things down through the years. One of the 
things that annoy me is cartoonists who draw characters who over- 
react to a punch line. I’m a great believer in the “mild” in cartooning. 
I’m a great believer in mild caricatures, and if you look back at all 
the superstars down through the years, none of them used what we 
could call extreme caricature. If you think of some of my all-time 
favorites — Roy Crane: nobody in the world was ever better than Roy 

National Cartoonists Society Convention 


Crane! Percy Crosby used the most wonderful pen lines you’ve ever 
seen in your life, and if you’re a young person and you haven’t stud- 
ied Percy Crosby, you’d better get down and find some books and see 
how Percy Crosby drew. A1 Capp, of course, and all the wonderful 
characters he created. They were all drawn in kind of a mild form of 
caricature: If the readers can’t tell where the eyes are and where the 
nose begins and where the mouth is, you’re in real trouble because 
that character, with that type of cartooning, can never show any 
emotion. So you’ve got to show them where the eyes are, where the 
mouth and the nose are. You can get away with a greeting-card kind 
of cartooning, but you’re not in greeting-card cartooning. You’re in 
cartooning, drawing people with some kind of emotion. And this is 
why I believe in the mild form of cartooning. Show them where the 
mouth is; show them where the eyes are and the nose is. But, if the 
cartoon character says something, don’t have the character emote 
with a great, big expression over some very mild statement. It’s bet- 
ter to just leave out the character completely if you’re not sure how 
that person would react, and just go to a close-up of somebody’s face 
or something. But I hate this business of overreacting to something 
like that. 

Somebody mentioned the other day that on a Sunday page, it’s 
not a bad idea to draw the next-to-the-last panel first. It’s terrible 
when you draw a whole Sunday page and find out that it’s not going 
to work. I read that Ernie Bushmiller used to do that. It’s something 
that I discovered on my own. Now, as your strip develops, I think 
you will find, too, that all comic strips have a single character around 
which all the others revolve. Mort Walker has done this with Beetle, 
Walt Kelly did it with Pogo; and usually the main character is a per- 
son with kind of a mild personality. He has some quirks and all that, 
but it’s the character the strip revolves around that’s so important. 
You can go back to A1 Capp and Li’l Abner. And I think this is very 
serious — as the years go by, it’s very important to build up a cast of 
characters so you can have a change of pace. I think a change of pace 
is really important. I think it’s important, if you’re doing a ridiculous 


My pr o fe SSIo N 

strip, to throw in some serious material now and then. Fortunately, I 
can do a lot of the corny things with Snoopy, like when he writes, he 
thinks his writing is great, but it’s terrible! But you couldn’t get away 
with that if somebody else was doing the writing. So I think that is 
very important. 

Now, we’re all different; we come from different backgrounds, 
obviously. We all have different ambitions. I read a lot, and I pick up 
bits of information here and there, and these are things that some- 
times provide wonderful ideas. Did you know that if you go into 
a pitch-dark room — you should try this sometime! — and chomp 
down on a wintergreen Lifesaver, it makes sparks? Judy Sladky, the 
world-famous skater who does work as Snoopy, was out at Christ- 
mas and told me this; I said, “That’s crazy! That doesn’t work!” So I go 
into a dark room, chewing on wintergreen Lifesavers, and I couldn’t 
make them spark. And it’s hard on the teeth. So I drew a series where 
Snoopy, the world-famous guide, was taking Peppermint Patty and 
Marcie on a walk through the woods and they get lost, and it’s hard 
and they have no flashlight, so they promptly found their way back 
home by chewing wintergreen Lifesavers. They followed the sparks 
as they went through the woods. 

The first thing I do when I draw a Sunday page is I take out a Pea- 
nuts calendar and I find out when the page is going to appear. Once 
last year, lo and behold, I looked at it and it says June 6. 1 had forgot- 
ten all about D-day the previous year. So it was a total accident that 
I happened to discover that that Sunday was going to come out on 
June 6. So I drew one huge panel, which I never used to do. Snoopy 
is landing at Omaha Beach, and he’s lying in the water, just his head 
and the helmet amid all the things Rommel had put down there to 
keep the soldiers from landing, and down below I just wrote, “June 
6, 1944 — To Remember.” And I got such a wonderful response from 
men all over the world. Now, I realize that this year is the fiftieth 
anniversary. I beat myself by one year! Now, I can’t let these men 
down. I’ve been thinking for a whole year about what I’m going to 
do for D-day, the actual landing. They’re going to be having these 

National Cartoonists Society Convention 


celebrations in France, 70-year-old men are going to jump out of air- 
planes again. And somewhere I read — but how many people know 
this? This is a good trivia question — does anyone know when Erwin 
Rommel’s wife’s birthday was? It’s not that hard a question, if you 
think about it. Erwin Rommel’s wife had her birthday on June 6! 
Now Rommel knew this, of course, and several weeks before, he had 
planned to go ahead and go home for her birthday. He had already 
bought her a pair of blue suede shoes in Paris, and he figured the 
Allies were not quite ready to land, according to their studies. He felt 
there was time to go home. So he went home for her birthday, and 
they landed while he was gone! It was a tremendous stroke of luck 
for the invaders. Now, that’s a pretty good idea, but how do we make 
it work? I could have Snoopy think about it, but he can’t talk to any- 
body, even though he knows it. I thought maybe he could be sitting 
in a pub with Peppermint Patty, but how could he tell her that Rom- 
mel’s not going to be there? This is a secret. Well, I could have him 
talk to Marcie, but I wanted to save Marcie in case, after he lands, he 
could meet her as the little French girl. He always goes over to her 
house to quaff root beers — and it turns out he’s not in a little French 
cafe, he’s in Marcie’s kitchen drinking root beer, much to the annoy- 
ance of her mother, because here’s this dog in her kitchen. So that 
didn’t work either. I kept thinking about this week after week, until 
one day all of a sudden it hit me — why not have Linus give a report? 
So we start off with Linus standing in school, saying, “This is a report 
on D-day,” and he talks about the invading forces being prepared to 
move, but nobody knows when, except one unknown GI. Snoopy’s 
sitting in his pub, and all of a sudden he gets the note: Rommel’s not 
going to be there; he’s gone home because of Mrs. Rommel’s birth- 
day. And Linus says, “This unknown hero rushes off, calls General 
Eisenhower, and says that ‘Tomorrow’s the day you have to invade 
because Rommel won’t be there.’” But how are we going to do that, 
because Snoopy still can’t talk? 

So I think about it, and finally I get the idea that Linus says, 
“When he ran off to call General Eisenhower, he spoke in code.” The 


My pr o fe SSIo N 

last panel shows one of those old English phone booths, all painted 
red, and I couldn’t find out what the telephone looked like inside the 
phone booth, so I just drew the phone booth, kind of blacked in the 
windows; and we see the last panel, just a phone booth, and the word 
balloon that says, “Woof!” 

I followed that up with five dailies where he actually lands at 
Omaha Beach. “Here’s the world-famous GI crashing through the 
surf, charging up Omaha Beach,” and for the first time in my career, 
I used Crafting Doubletone [shading paper], and I called Sarah 
Gillespie to warn her that I’m not going to do this all the time. I just 
wanted it for scenes like that, which would give it a real splashing 
up through the surf in one long panel, and there a small panel at 
the end where Marcie’s on the phone, and she says, “Hey, Charles, 
your dog is over here, and he’s running back and forth in my wading 
pool.” Again, I needed an angle, and so each time I show Snoopy in 
his imagination doing something, then it’s explained by somebody 
in the other panel about what we’re seeing. 

I think comic strips should live a life of their own. Don’t get 
involved too much with television. You have to show characters 
watching it, because it’s part of our lives. But whatever you do, don’t 
use expressions that have become famous on television. You are out 
here to create your own language and your own expressions. You are 
creating in a media just as good as anything they do on television. 
We can do things that live actors can never do. A live actor could 
never pull a football away and show Charlie Brown up in the air and 
landing flat on his back. These are things they could never do. 

We have to stay within our medium, so I say don’t rely too much 
on watching television, and trying to make comments on things 
you see on the screen there. There are wonderful things in Bartlett’s 
Quotations, little bits of poetry and such. I always like the one from 
either Tolstoy or Scott Fitzgerald — I don’t know who it was — “In the 
real dark night of the soul, it is always three o’clock in the morning.” 
That’s a real cartoon idea for your characters. 

National Cartoonists Society Convention 


Which again brings us back to the point you have to have char- 
acters that can do lines like this. If they are overly caricatured, they 
cannot talk like this. I don’t know how many ideas I’ve done with 
poor Charlie Brown lying in bed. “Sometimes I lie awake at night and 
I ask, ‘Is it all worth it?”’ And then a voice says, “Who are you talking 
to?” And another voice says, “You mean: to whom are you talking?” 
And Charlie Brown says, “No wonder I lie awake at night.” 

“Sometimes I lie awake at night and I ask, ‘Why am I here?”’ 
And a voice says, “Where are you?” “Here,” Charlie Brown says. 
“Where’s here?” says the voice. “Wave your hand so I can see you.” 
Charlie Brown says, “The nights are getting longer.” “Sometimes I lie 
awake at night and I ask, ‘Why me?”’ And the voice says, “Nothing 
personal — your name just happened to come up.” 

I guess I talked infinitely longer than I’d planned, but I’d love to 
answer any questions you may have. 

b b b 

[Following are responses to questions and comments from the audience.] 

b b b 

[About retirement] When I quit, retire or die — like those two women 
thought — well, we had a big meeting with all the attorneys and my 
own children, and they said, “We don’t want anyone else drawing 
Dad’s strip.” So that’s it. 

b b b 

[About his statement once that “there will always be a place for inno- 
cence”] I have never done anything that I consider the least bit offen- 
sive. There are no fire hydrants in my strip, no toilet bowls. There 
is a market for innocence. I told this to Lee Mendelson way back 


My pr o fe SSIo N 

when we first started doing television shows. There’s still a market 
for things that are dean and decent. 

b b b 

[About the origins of the Peanuts animated cartoons ] A man from Coca- 
Cola called Lee Mendelson and said “Were kind of looking around 
for a Christmas show. You don’t have any ideas for us, do you?” 
And Lee told them, “I think we might.” So Bill [Melendez] and I got 
together one night and wrote the Christmas story. And it was in the 
midst of deciding what would happen, I said, “Gee, Bill, we can’t get 
around it — if we’re going to do a Christmas story, we have to use the 
famous passage about the baby Jesus.” And we did. Linus walked out 
and said, “Lights, please!” And he recites the wonderful passage. No 
one had ever done this sort of thing before. And we did it. 

b b b 

[About comic character merchandising] I don’t know Bill [Watterson]. 
I’ve never talked to him. I wrote a foreword for one of his books, but 
I’ve never talked to him. Like I said before, we’re all individuals, and 
I dreamed of becoming a comic strip artist. I never thought about 
licensing or anything like that, but I was driving down the street one 
day and I saw a truck that had Yosemite Sam pasted on the back of 
the truck. And I thought, “People love cartoon characters, and the 
man who drives this truck loves Yosemite Sam enough to paste his 
likeness to the back of his truck.” What in the world is wrong with 
that? People love coffee cups and things, and if you can put the char- 
acters on TV, sometimes it’s just terrible, but if you can do it [well], 
fine. You’re A Good Man, Charlie Brown is the most-performed musi- 
cal in the history of the American theater, because we did it right, 
and I don’t see anything wrong with that. Plus, I don’t think I’m a 
true artist. I would love to be Andrew Wyeth or Picasso . . . but I can 
draw pretty well and I can write pretty well, and I think I’m doing the 

National Cartoonists Society Convention 


best I can with whatever abilities I have been given. And what more 
can one ask? 

[We create] a commercial product; we help the newspaper edi- 
tor sell his paper, and I don’t think what I do is so great that ... 20 
years ago in an interview with Playboy, A1 Capp said, “Peanuts has 
just about run its course now. . . . Little kids talking like adults — 
these little kids don’t talk like adults. Adults don’t even talk like 
that!” Anyway, that was 20 years ago, and since then I’ve added 1,500 

Delivered May 14, 1994. 

Pleasures of the Chalk-Talk 

A s a general rule, I must admit that I am not overly fond of 
giving chalk-talks. I always enjoy myself while I am actu- 
ally performing, but after it is all over, and I have loaded my 
equipment back into my car, I suddenly find myself with that long 
lonesome drive home, and I wonder to myself, “Why in the world 
did I do this?” 

Well, let’s talk about the “why” for a moment. One reason, and 
the most important, is a feeling of gratitude for being able to make 
a living doing something you enjoy so much. Somehow, this seems 
like a way to repay for this great gift that has been given to you. It is 
also a good way to take some program chairman off the hook, espe- 
cially if he is a friend of yours. But it is no easy task. In practically 
every appearance I have made there has been someone in the audi- 
ence who has sat silent throughout the entire show, and while you 
are standing there drawing those silly pictures and doing your best 
to make everyone laugh, this one person just sits there like he or she 
couldn’t care less. This usually makes you wonder “why” you agreed 
to come. 

I prefer to work with a huge easel, a black crayon, and a micro- 
phone that can be placed to one side of the board so that I can stand 
away from the drawing after it has been made and talk about it. I 
hate after-dinner speeches in halls that extend so far back you can- 
not reach your audience. I much prefer a close-in group that has come 
especially for this event. I refuse to try to follow a Barber Shop Quar- 
tet or a magician or a ventriloquist, for they have whipped the mind 



My pr o fe SSIo N 

of the audience to a level where my talking quietly of the problems of 
Charlie Brown is a sure let-down. 

As an opener, I have found that a drawing of Charlie Brown in 
his big baseball hat wearing his over-sized glove is still the best one 
I have ever come up with. It is an adaptation of a gag cartoon I sold 
to the Saturday Evening Post back in 1949, and after talking about 
all of Charlie Brown’s problems I wind up the bit by saying, “Even 
though he takes quite a beating he still feels that he has the most 
important position on the team because he stands here to see that 
the ball doesn’t roll down the sewer!” 

The secret to this whole situation, of course, is that no one 
has really recognized what it is that I have drawn behind him until 
I finally mention the word “sewer.” I can usually judge pretty well 
what sort of evening or day it is going to be, too, as I start to draw 
Charlie Brown’s head. If giggles begin to run through the audience as 
soon as I draw that round head and innocent face, then I know that 
I am in, and we will have a good time. My procedure is to go on from 
there drawing each character in the Peanuts strip, and talking a little 
about his or her personality. I enjoy a group where we can have ques- 
tions and answers afterward because this is both fun and a good way 
to pace your talk. The sample drawings shown here are drawn exactly 
as I would make them with a black crayon before a live audience. No 
preliminary pencil work is ever done. 

Charles M. Schulz, untitled and unpublished typescript. 

This page intentionally left blank 

The Theme of Peanut s 

T he initial theme of Peanuts was based on the cruelty that 
exists among children. I recall all too vividly the struggle 
that takes place out on the playground. This is a struggle 
that adults grow away from and seem to forget about. Adults learn 
to protect themselves. In this day of organized sports for children, 
we forget how difficult it once was for smaller children to set up any 
kind of ball game at a playground because so often there were older 
and bigger kids to interrupt the fun. I have always despised bullies, 
and even though someone once suggested that I have much psycho- 
logical bullying going on in Peanuts, I do consciously try to stay away 
from that sort of thing. 

As the strip progressed from the fall of the year 1950, the char- 
acters began to change. Charlie Brown was a flippant little guy, who 
soon turned into the loser he is known as today. This was the first 
of the formulas to develop. Formulas are truly the backbone of the 
comic strip. In fact, they are probably the backbone of any continuing 
entertainment. As Charlie Brown developed, so did characters such 
as Lucy, Schroeder, and Linus. Snoopy was the slowest to develop, 
and it was his eventually walking around on two feet that turned 
him into a lead character. It has certainly been difficult to keep him 
from taking over the feature. 

There are various origins for the characters. Charlie Brown is 
supposed to represent what is sometimes called “everyman.” When 
I was small, I believed that my face was so bland that people would 
not recognize me if they saw me some place other than where they 



My ar T 

normally would. I was sincerely surprised if I happened to be in a 
downtown area of St. Paul, shopping with my mother, and we would 
bump into a fellow student at school, or a teacher, and they rec- 
ognized me. I thought that my ordinary appearance was a perfect 
disguise. It was this weird kind of thinking that prompted Charlie 
Brown’s round, ordinary face. Linus came from a drawing that I made 
one day of a face almost like the one he now has. I experimented with 
some wild hair, and I showed the sketch to a friend of mine who sat 
near me at Art Institute whose name was Linus Maurer. He thought 
it was kind of funny, and we both agreed it might make a good new 
character for the strip. It seemed appropriate that I should name 
the character Linus. It also seemed that Linus would fit very well as 
Lucy’s younger brother. Lucy had already been in the strip for about 
a year, and had immediately developed her fussbudget personality. 
We called our oldest daughter, Meredith, a fussbudget when she was 
very small, and from this I applied the term to Lucy. Schroeder was 
named after a young boy with whom I used to caddy at Highland 
Park golf course in St. Paul. I don’t recall ever knowing his first name, 
but just Schroeder seemed right for the character in the strip, even 
before he became the great musician he now is. 

One night, over ten years after I began drawing Peanuts, I had a 
dream in which I created a new character whose name was a combi- 
nation of Mexican and Swedish. Why in the world I had such a dream 
and would think of such a name as Jose Peterson is a mystery to 
me. Most of the time, things that are a complete riot when you are 
dreaming are not the least bit funny when you wake up. In this case, 
however, it seemed like a good idea, so I developed a story about the 
arrival of Jose Peterson in the neighborhood, and he has remained 
ever since, usually playing on Peppermint Patty’s baseball team. 

Patty has been a good addition for me, and I think she could 
almost carry another strip by herself. A dish of candy sitting in our 
living room inspired her name. At the time I was thinking of writ- 
ing a series of children’s books completely separate from the Pea- 
nuts strip, but my schedule kept me too busy to ever get started and 

The Theme of Peanuts 


almost a year went by before I decided that I had better use this 
name, lest someone else think of it and beat me to it. So in this case 
I created the character to fit the name, and Peppermint Patty came 
into being. Her little friend, Marcie, who is always addressing her as 
“Sir,” has also been a good addition to the strip. 

I have always believed that you not only cast a strip to enable 
the characters to do things you want them to, but that the characters 
themselves, by their very nature and personality, should provide you 
with ideas. These are the characters who remain in the feature and 
are seen most often. The more distinct the personalities are, the bet- 
ter the feature will be. Readers can then respond to the characters as 
though they are real. 

It is interesting to observe that many of the lead characters in 
our most successful comic strips have had similar personalities. Read- 
ers are generally sympathetic toward a lead character who is rather 
gentle, sometimes put upon, and not always the brightest person. 
Perhaps this is the kind of person who is easiest to love. I really don’t 
know. It may also be that giving the supporting characters the most 
distinct personalities makes for a more controllable story. A char- 
acter with more of a “middle ground” personality can hold the rest 
of the group together. In the case of Peanuts, I like to have Charlie 
Brown eventually be the focal point of almost every story. No mat- 
ter what happens to any of the other characters, somehow Charlie 
Brown is involved at the end and usually is the one who brings disas- 
ter upon one of his friends or receives the brunt of the blow. Charlie 
Brown has to be the one who suffers, because he is a caricature of the 
average person. Most of us are much more acquainted with losing 
than we are with winning. Winning is great, but it isn’t funny. While 
one person is a happy winner, there may be a hundred losers using 
funny stories to console themselves. 

Snoopy’s appearance and personality have changed probably 
more than those of any of the other characters. As my drawing style 
loosened, Snoopy was able to do more things, and when I finally 
developed the formula of using his imagination to dream of being 


My ar T 

many heroic figures, the strip took on a completely new dimension. I 
had observed that there were many neighborhood dogs that seemed 
almost smarter than the children who were their masters. The dogs 
seemed to tolerate the silly things the kids did; they seemed to be 
very wise. This was one of the initial themes of Snoopy that I have 
built upon in many ways. Snoopy refuses to be caught in the trap 
of doing ordinary things like chasing and retrieving sticks, and he 
refuses to take seriously his role as the devoted dog who greets his 
master when he returns home from school. In recent years, I have 
played up the gag that he doesn’t even remember his master’s name, 
but simply thinks of him as “that round-headed kid.” 

One of the questions most frequently asked of a cartoonist 
seems to be: “Where do you get your ideas?” After twenty-five years 
of drawing the Peanuts comic strip, I feel that I have learned a good 
deal about creativity and how one prepares an idea. Still rather a 
mystery to me is where some of the little phrases come from, and 
why it is possible to think of ten ideas in one day, and not be able 
to think of a single one the next. Perhaps I would be better off sim- 
ply saying that I don’t know how I think of all these ideas, which 
would be the same kind of answer I frequently give people who say, 
“I just want to let you know how much I admire your philosophy.” 
This is a statement that continually baffles me, for I sincerely do not 
know what they mean. Therefore, all I can do is say “Thank you.” I am 
always tempted, however, to start some kind of discussion to find 
out just what it is they really admire. 

Some of my ideas can be traced back. I have drawn many car- 
toons showing the children standing in line to buy tickets to a movie, 
because my memories of Saturday afternoons at the Park Theater in 
St. Paul are so vivid. Almost nothing could prevent us from seeing 
the latest episode of this Saturday afternoon serial and the movie 
that followed. One day, the theater advertised that the first 500 cus- 
tomers would receive a free Butterfinger candy bar. I must have been 
the 501stchild in line, because when I got up to the window, the man 
said, “Sorry, that’s all there is.” Forty years later, I had the same thing 

The Theme of Peanuts 


happen to Charlie Brown. The shape of the theater itself inspired 
another Sunday page. Charlie Brown is talking about how things 
change as we grow older. Of course I used his father as the instrument 
for my own recollections, and his father has apparently told him how 
the theater that he attended when he was a small boy seemed to get 
narrower and narrower as the years went by. This is similar to going 
back to a house where you once lived when you were young, and dis- 
covering that the backyard you remember as being so large is really 
absurdly small. Another time, Charlie Brown’s father, also using my 
memory, recalls a cute little girl he used to know. When he picked 
her up in his 1934 black two-door sedan, she reached over and locked 
the driver’s side of the car before he could get back around to his 
side of the car. She then sat there and grinned at him. These are the 
little jokes that make new love such a joy, and even though Pepper- 
mint Patty is not able to understand it, Charlie Brown instinctively 
knows that those moments should be cherished. Charlie Brown has 
also defined security as being able to sleep in the back seat of your 
parents’ car. This, again, is a childhood memory, one supported by 
many readers who have told me that they also recall the wonderful 
joy of doing this with a feeling of complete security when returning 
home late at night. The shattering blow comes in later years when 
one realizes that this can never happen again. Adults are doomed to 
ride in the front seat forever. 

Probably one of the biggest defeats any of us can experience in 
this life is being turned down by the girl we love, and then seeing her 
turn around and almost immediately marry someone else. This is a 
defeat from which it is almost impossible to recover. Charlie Brown’s 
defeats, of course, are a caricature. None of us suffers the continual 
agony he does because his life is caricatured to the same degree that 
he is drawn. I have memories of a little girl, which have been trans- 
lated into many defeats for Charlie Brown. He is talking in one par- 
ticular page about an episode related to him and his family. It seems 
that his father and the girl had spent a wonderful day together hav- 
ing a picnic, and then going to a movie. The father tells how this 


My ar T 

movie had impressed him very much, and how afterward whenever 
he saw Anne Baxter in other films it would always take him back to 
that wonderful day he spent with the girl he loved. When telling a 
friend about it, however, the friend says, “Why, that was not Anne 
Baxter in the movie, it was Susan Hayward.” This is how my own 
memories become mixed up with the memories of Charlie Brown’s 
fictional father. For years, the sight of Anne Baxter on a late-late 
show or in a movie depressed me, for it brought back memories of 
that day, and that evening, and my defeat. And when someone told 
me that I had been depressed by the wrong fact all those years, it 
came as quite a shock. 

Life has many finalities, and readers being able to make their 
own interpretations is, I suppose, what makes a cartoon idea suc- 
cessful. I frequently keep little scraps of paper in one of my desk 
drawers with slight notations for ideas that I hope someday to put 
together into a workable strip. One that I thought about for over a 
year eventually became one of the most sought-after pages I have 
ever done. We have received countless requests for the original and 
for reprints. It all started when my oldest son, Monte, was in high 
school and was involved with an art class where the project was a 
coat-hanger sculpture. He was telling me about it one day while 
we were riding home in the car from school, and he said that he 
was going to transform a coat hanger into the figure of a baseball 
pitcher. It sounded like a good idea to me, and I was anxious to hear 
about the final results. Several weeks went by before he mentioned 
it again, and this time he told me that the teacher had handed back 
the projects and he had received a C on his coat-hanger sculpture. I 
remember being quite disturbed by this, because I could not under- 
stand how a teacher was able to grade this kind of proj ect. I thought 
about it as the months went by, and finally translated it into the 
Sunday page where Sally expresses indignation over receiving the 
same grade for her piece of coat-hanger sculpture. Her questions 
were the same ones that I wanted to ask Monte’s teacher. Had he 
judged the sculpture as a piece of art? If so, what criteria did he use 

The Theme of Peanuts 


to judge it? Was he grading the person on his ability to create this 
work of art? If so, what control did the person have over the talent 
that was given him at birth? Was the person being graded upon 
what he had learned in the project? If so, should the teacher not 
be willing to share in the grade? Sally made a good instrument for 
this kind of idea, for she is a character who expresses indignation 
well, and who is completely puzzled by all of the things she has to 
go through in school. 

This, of course, is one of the secrets to casting a comic strip. It is 
much like casting a drama company, where you must have actors who 
can play whatever roles are called for. The comic strip itself should 
have a variety of personalities so that you are not always striking 
the same note. You must have a full keyboard on which to play out 
the themes and variations demanded each day. Lucy has been invit- 
ing Charlie Brown to come running up to kick the football and then 
pulling it away each year for eighteen years. Every time I complete 
this annual page, I am sure I will never be able to think of another 
one, but so far I have always managed to come up with a new twist 
for the finish. (I suppose I have been encouraged to keep it up during 
the last three or four years because California’s ex-governor, Ronald 
Reagan, once told me that this was one of his favorite episodes, and 
I am easily flattered into continuing something if I have been told 
that it has been a favorite.) It all started, of course, with a childhood 
memory of being unable to resist the temptation to pull away the 
football at the kickoff. We all did it, we all fell for it. In fact, I was 
told by a professional football player that he actually saw it happen 
in a college game at the University of Minnesota. The Gophers were 
apparently leading by a good margin, everyone was enjoying him- 
self, and the man holding the football, like the kids in the neighbor- 
hood, could not resist the temptation to pull it away. I wish I had 
been there to see it. 

I have never been a very successful kite flyer and have used the 
excuse that I never lived where there were good areas to fly them. 
When I was growing up, we always lived in residential areas that 


My ar T 

had too many trees and too many telephone wires. Recollections of 
those handicaps inspired Charlie Brown’s troubles with kite flying. 
As I grew older and tried to fly kites for my own children, I discov- 
ered that I still had the same problems. I observed that when a kite 
becomes caught in a tall tree, it is irretrievable and gradually disap- 
pears over a period of several weeks. Now obviously the kite had 
to go someplace, so it seemed to me that the tree must be eating 
it. This is how the series developed about Charlie Brown’s violent 
battles with his local “kite-eating tree.” 

When my daughter Amy had her fifteenth birthday, I gave her 
a dozen roses and told her that she would soon be a beautiful young 
lady and that the boys would be calling on her and probably would 
be bringing her presents. I told her that I wanted to be the first 
one in her life to give her a dozen roses. This was the inspiration 
for the Sunday page that showed Peppermint Patty receiving roses 
from her father on her birthday. For several years, I have referred to 
our youngest daughter, Jill, as a “rare gem,” so I simply combined 
our two daughters into one and created the very sentimental page 
that concludes with Peppermint Patty saying, “Suddenly, I feel very 

I suppose my long-time interest in music enabled me to carry 
out the ideas involving Schroeder playing his toy piano. This inter- 
est was kept alive by several of my friends at Art Instruction. We all 
collected classical albums, which we frequently shared on evenings 
when we got together to listen to music and challenge each other in 
wild games of hearts. Having been fascinated for several months by 
Strauss waltzes, I graduated one day to the purchase of Beethoven’s 
Second Symphony, and I remember that this record opened up a 
whole new world for me. 

A toy piano that we had bought for our oldest daughter, Mer- 
edith, eventually became the piano that Schroeder uses for his daily 
practicing. Seeing a portion of Beethoven’s Ninth Symphony in print 
gave me the idea for the many episodes involving Schroeder’s admi- 
ration for that great composer. I have been asked many times: “Why 

The Theme of Peanuts 


Beethoven?” The answer is simply that it is funnier that way. There 
are certain words and names that work better than others. I don’t 
believe it would be half as funny if Schroeder admired Brahms. There 
is also the very practical fact that to most of us laymen, Beethoven, 
Rembrandt, and Shakespeare are the three mountain poets in music, 
art, and literature. I have read several biographies of Beethoven — 
being strangely fascinated by the lives of composers, much more 
so than by the lives of painters — and from these biographies have 
managed to come up with different things that have concerned 
Schroeder. For a long time I had thought that the sentence “Lobkow- 
itz stopped his annuity” was an extremely funny sentence, and I was 
happy to find a way to use it. Sometimes, drawing the musical scores 
that Schroeder plays can be very tedious, but I love the pattern that 
the notes make on the page. I have always tried to be authentic in 
this matter. I believe that some readers enjoy trying to determine 
what it is that Schroeder is playing. 

Linus’s blanket was inspired by the blankets that our first three 
children dragged around the house, and the character of “Joe Cool,” 
as expressed through Snoopy, evolved out of something that my sec- 
ond son, Craig, mentioned when I overheard a conversation between 
him and some other teenagers at our ice arena. Craig is also the inspi- 
ration for one of the more recent series involving “Joe Motocross.” 

My son Monte claims to have been the one who gave me the 
idea for Snoopy chasing the Red Baron in his World War I flying 
gear while atop his “Sopwith Camel” doghouse. I, of course, deny 
that he actually gave me the idea, but I will admit that he inspired 
it, for at the time he was very much involved with building plastic 
models of World War I airplanes. It was on an afternoon when he 
was showing me one of his models that I drew a helmet on Snoopy 
and placed him in a pilot’s pose on top of his doghouse. The whole 
thing kind of fit together. You might say it simply took off, and I 
knew I had one of the best things I had thought of in a long time. 
In fact, this theme went on for several years and even produced two 
separate books. 


My ar T 

Direct ideas have been much more rare. Our youngest daughter, 
Jill, came up to me one day and said, “I just discovered something. 
If you hold your hands upside down, you get the opposite of what 
you pray for.” I used this as an idea exactly as she said it. Craig also 
told me one day that a good way to clean one’s fingernails was to use 
toothpaste. Again, I used the idea almost the way he said it. Another 
time our second daughter, Amy, provided me with an idea that I 
think came out as well as any I have ever drawn. The entire fam- 
ily was around the dinner table and, for some reason, Amy seemed 
particularly noisy that evening. After putting up with this for about 
ten minutes, I turned to her and said, “Amy, couldn’t you be quiet for 
just a little while?” She said nothing, but picked up a piece of bread 
and began to butter it with a knife and asked, “Am I buttering too 
loud for you?” This was very easily translated into a Linus and Lucy 
Sunday page. 

In going through hundreds of Sunday pages that I have drawn 
over the years, I was startled to discover that the year 1968 pro- 
duced a sudden turn in new ideas. For some reason, I was able to 
come up with a whole flock of new themes that I had never worked 
on before. I have looked back to that year, but have been unable to 
discover what it might have been that caused me to be able to think 
of so many new ideas at the time. Generally speaking, it seems that 
more good cartoon ideas have come out of a mood of sadness than 
a feeling of well-being. A couple of years ago, some events in my life 
saddened me to such a degree that I could no longer listen to the car 
radio. I did not want to risk becoming depressed while riding alone 
in the car, and I found that almost everything I listened to on the 
car radio would send me into a deep depression. In spite of this, I 
was still able to come up with cartoon ideas that were not only as 
good as anything I had ever done, but carried the strip forward into 
new areas. 

At another earlier time, I had an album of Hank Williams songs 
to which I used to listen over and over. One night, saddened by the 
plaintive lyrics of lost love, I created the first of a long series where 

The Theme of Peanuts 


Charlie Brown tried so desperately to get up the courage to speak to 
the little red-haired girl. It would be difficult to explain to someone 
how a Hank Williams song had prompted such thoughts, but this is 
the way it happened. 

Not all of my ideas have worked out successfully. One day, while 
searching for some kind of new story to work on, I decided to have 
the character named Frieda, the little girl who is so proud of her 
naturally curly hair, threaten Snoopy with bringing a cat into the 
neighborhood. Snoopy was horrified and, when the cat arrived, did 
not like it at all. Fortunately for him, I also discovered that I didn’t 
care much for the cat. For one thing, I realized that I don’t draw a 
cat very well, and secondly, if I were to keep up the relationship, I 
would have a traditional cat-and-dog strip, which was something 
I certainly wanted to avoid. The cat and the dog could not talk to 
each other because Snoopy never talks, he only thinks. So I would 
have had to show the cat and dog thinking to each other, which was 
totally unreasonable. More important, the cat brought Snoopy back 
to being too much of a real dog. By the time the cat had come into 
the strip, Snoopy was drifting further and further into his fantasy 
life, and it was important that he continue in that direction. To take 
him back to his earlier days would not work, so I did the obvious and 
removed the cat. (My only regret was that I had named the cat after 
Faron Young, a country-and-western singer whom I admired very 
much. This was the second time that a country-and-western singer 
had contributed something to the strip.) An offstage cat now works 
better than a real one in the same way that the little red-haired girl, 
Linus’s blanket-hating grandmother, Charlie Brown’s father, the bar- 
ber, and the kids’ teachers all work better in the reader’s imagination. 
There comes a time when it is actually too late to draw these offstage 
characters. I would never be able to draw the little red-haired girl, for 
example, as well as the reader draws her in his imagination. 

The early years of Peanuts contain many ideas that revolved 
around very tiny children, because my own children were still 
young at the time. As the strip grew, it took on a slight degree of 


My ar T 

sophistication, although I have never claimed to be the least sophis- 
ticated myself. But it also took on a quality that I think is even more 
important, and that is one which I can only describe as abstraction. 
The neighborhood in which the characters lived ceased gradually 
to be real. Snoopy’s doghouse could function only if it were drawn 
from a direct side view. Snoopy himself had become a character so 
unlike a dog that he could no longer inhabit a real doghouse. And 
the cartooning of the other characters, with their large, round heads 
and tiny arms, came frequently to prohibit them from doing some 
of the more realistic things that a more normal style of cartooning 
would allow. Nevertheless, this was the direction I wanted to take, 
and I believe it has led me to do some things that no one ever before 
attempted in a comic strip. 

There are many standard poses that I use in the Peanuts draw- 
ings, and they are all used for definite reasons, some more important 
than others. I was always overly cautious with my own children, wor- 
rying constantly of their becoming injured, or worse, in some mis- 
hap. When I began to draw the kids in the strip talking to each other, 
the obvious pose was to show them sitting on the curb, reminiscent 
of the early “Skippy” strips, drawn by Perey Crosby. The characters in 
Peanuts, however, were much younger than Skippy and his friends, 
and I was always sensitive about showing them sitting on a street 
curb, where they could very easily get run over. Therefore, I always 
drew them sitting at the end of the front walk that ran down from the 
steps, out to the main sidewalk. This was not always a suitable pose 
for some of the later strips, so I eventually changed it to show them 
standing by a stone wall. This gave the reader a chance to speculate as 
to what the characters might be looking at while talking about life’s 
problems and leaning in various positions. I also gradually became 
aware that it was important for readers instantly to identify the char- 
acters and what they were doing. This is the main reason I have never 
gone in for using tricky camera angles and a variety of poses from 
panel to panel. For example, there would be no advantage to show 
Schroeder from a variety of views. It is much more important that 

The Theme of Peanuts 


the reader identify him immediately and have the feeling of familiar- 
ity as he sees him seated at his tiny toy piano. Admittedly, it would 
be difficult to draw some of these characters from different angles. 
In certain cases, they simply do not fit, and other poses are easier to 
fake from certain angles. When it comes right down to it, we have to 
get back to what looks best, and Schroeder looks best when drawn 
from side view, playing his piano. Also, I have always drawn the char- 
acters viewed from their own level, which gets the reader right down 
into the picture without any superior, adult view. I probably am the 
only cartoonist who always draws grass from side view. 

The more Snoopy moved into his life of fantasy, the more impor- 
tant it became for his doghouse to remain in side view. You simply 
cannot have a dog doing and thinking the things that Snoopy does 
on a realistic doghouse. The image is much more acceptable when 
the doghouse is drawn only from the side. When necessary, it almost 
loses its identity completely. Snoopy’s typewriter could never bal- 
ance on the peak the way it does and, of course, Snoopy is somewhat 
of a mystery when one examines his sleeping pose closely. I once 
inquired of a veterinarian how birds stay on tree limbs when they 
fall asleep. He told me that their claws receive a message from their 
brain after they have fallen asleep, which tightens a certain muscle, 
keeping them from tumbling off the branch. He said a similar thing 
occurs to horses, allowing them to sleep while standing. Humans do 
not have this ability. When I am asked how Snoopy remains on top 
of his doghouse after falling asleep, I am now able to say that his 
brain sends a message to his ears, which lock him to the top of his 

The baseball scenes work wonderfully well even though we 
never see the other team. Most of the time we are focused on Char- 
lie Brown, standing on top of the pitcher’s mound. It was Robert 
Short, author of The Gospel According to Peanuts, who once reminded 
me that Charlie Brown’s pose on the pitcher’s mound was not unlike 
that of Job on his ash heap. He was quite surprised when I told him 
that this had never occurred to me. 


My ar T 

Baseball has played a prominent role in the strip because it is 
effective when dealing with static situations. A violent sport, or one 
that contains a lot of action, does not lend itself to having charac- 
ters standing around spouting philosophical opinions. There is also 
the element of tension, as in the sport of baseball itself. I can show 
Charlie Brown standing on the mound, and build up the tension of 
what is going to happen before the game begins or before he throws 
the next pitch. This would be difficult with almost any other sport. 

The front-view pose of Linus holding his blanket is used for two 
reasons: again, for familiarity, and secondly, for practical reasons. 
With his large head and short arms, it would be very difficult to draw 
Linus sucking his thumb from side view, for he would have a hard 
time stretching his arm out that far. The animators in Hollywood, 
who have worked on our many television shows and movies, have 
discovered this much to their chagrin. There are some poses that 
simply have to be avoided. 

The introduction of Woodstock into the strip is a good dem- 
onstration of how some things cannot work until they have been 
drawn properly. The little birds that had appeared earlier were drawn 
much too realistically to be able to fill humorous roles, but as I loos- 
ened up the drawing style, Woodstock gradually developed. A prob- 
lem similar to that of the cat has now come about, and I have had to 
back off slightly. I would much prefer that Snoopy not communicate 
with Woodstock, but there are some ideas that are too important to 
abandon, so I have him speaking to Woodstock through “thought” 
balloons. I’ve held fast with Woodstock’s means of communication, 
though it has been tempting at times to have him talk. I feel it would 
be a mistake to give in on this point, however, for I think it is more 
important that all of Woodstock’s talking remain depicted simply in 
the little scratch marks that appear above his head. 

If Peanuts has been unique in any way, it has been because of 
the absence of adults. I usually say that they do not appear because 
the daily strip is only an inch and a half high, and they wouldn’t have 
room to stand up. Actually, they have been left out because they 

The Theme of Peanuts 


would intrude in a world where they could only be uncomfortable. 
Adults are not needed in the Peanuts strip. In earlier days I experi- 
mented with offstage voices, but soon abandoned this, as it was not 
only impractical but actually clumsy. Instead, I have developed a cast 
of offstage adults who are talked about, but never seen or heard. 
Charlie Brown’s father seems to be a gentle soul who is developing a 
few problems. Charlie Brown once said that he saw him in the kitchen 
late one night looking at his high school annual, eating cold cereal, 
and looking very sad. This would say something about almost every 
one of us. Linus’s blanket-hating grandmother has caused a good 
deal of trouble for poor Linus because she seems to be convinced 
that she can cure him of his terrible habit of having to drag around 
his spiritual blotter. When he knows that she is coming over to their 
house to visit, and realizing it is impossible to hide his blanket from 
her, he tucks it into a self-addressed envelope and drops it into the 
mail, knowing it will not come back for at least four or five days. 
Another strong character who never appears is Linus’s teacher, Miss 
Othmar. Linus denies that he loves her, insisting he is simply “very 
fond of the ground on which she walks.” I have often heard it said 
that children know a lot more about what is going on around them 
than adults are willing to admit. But I have also observed that chil- 
dren sometimes understand much less of what is going on around 
them than we think they do. For one thing, children seem to live 
more for themselves than do adults, and I see no reason why they 
should not. They frequently get a distorted view of what is actually 
happening. I pointed this out once in a little story about Linus and 
his teacher where he had been assigned to bring some eggshells to 
school for a project in which they were studying igloos. The eggshells 
were evidently to be placed in a setting where they would appear to 
be an Eskimo village. For some reason, Linus could not remember 
to bring the eggshells to school, and he noticed that Miss Othmar 
was very upset. Being very self-conscious, as most children are, he 
thought for sure that Miss Othmar was upset because of his inabil- 
ity to remember the eggshells. It turned out, however, that Miss 


My ar T 

Othmar merely was involved in an after-hours romance. Eventually 
she ran off to get married. 

I am not sure, but I believe that in addition to being the first 
cartoonist to use authentic musical scores in his comic strip, I am 
also the first to use extensive theological references. I have done 
this in spite of severe criticism from people who have written in to 
me saying that it is a desecration of the scriptures to quote them 
in “such a lowly thing as a newspaper comic strip.” My mind reels 
with countless things I would like to write back to these people, but I 
always decide it is better not to say anything. These scriptural refer- 
ences have always been done with dignity and, of course, with much 
love, for I am extremely fond of studying both the Old and the New 

I received a letter one day from a young seminary student named 
Robert Short, who had been using some of the Peanuts material as 
part of his thesis. He asked permission to have his material pub- 
lished in book form. I appreciated many of the things he said in his 
thesis, though I realized that when dealing with religious opinions, 
you are leaving yourself open for all kinds of criticism and trouble. I 
told him that I would certainly be pleased if his book were published, 
but I wanted no one to think that we had collaborated on his work. 
This is my philosophy: Always accept the compliments and praise, 
but avoid the blame. As it turned out, The Gospel According to Peanuts 
was a tremendous best-seller and did much good. It opened the way 
for Bob to tour the country and speak to thousands of college stu- 
dents, as it opened the way in a similar manner for other religious 
workers to lead discussion groups. 

While I have introduced many theological themes into Peanuts, 
I have also been aware that it is unfair to subscribing newspaper edi- 
tors to promote views that can become too personal. I do believe, 
however, that it is quite possible to use the scriptures in a gentle 
manner in a comic strip. My own theological views have changed 
considerably over the past twenty-five years, and I now shy away 
from anyone who claims to possess all of the truth. I do not find it 
easy to discuss with an interviewer things of a spiritual nature, for 

The Theme of Peanuts 


they do not always come out on the printed page in a manner that 
can be easily understood. I find it much safer, as well as more gratify- 
ing, to reserve theological discussions for a time when you can look 
the other person directly in the eye. There are too many “howevers” 
that need to be spoken when discussing subjects this sensitive, and 
they simply do not come out well in the average magazine or news- 
paper interview. 

Every profession and every type of work has its difficulties, and 
one of the most difficult aspects of creating a comic strip is attempt- 
ing to sustain a certain quality of day-to-day schedule that never 
ends. Trying not only to maintain that level, but to improve the fea- 
ture as the months go by, in spite of the problems one may be having 
in one’s life, makes cartooning a very demanding profession. I believe 
the ability to sustain a certain quality, in spite of everything, is one 
of the elements that separates the good features from the weaker 
ones. I went through one strange phase in my life when I became 
quite disturbed by dreams, which occurred to me irregularly over a 
period of several weeks. I would find in my dreams that I was crying 
uncontrollably, and when I awakened, I was extremely depressed. 
Naturally, it is not easy to disregard something like this, to forget 
it all and start thinking of funny cartoons, for the daily pressures of 
life affect us all. I have talked to many people who have agreed that 
they find themselves feeling angry throughout much of the day. The 
mere routine of having to deal with customers or company people 
in superior positions is enough to make the working day difficult. 
Sometimes, simply reading the morning paper, or watching the tele- 
vision news, is enough to discourage anyone. We become angry with 
ourselves, with our family, our fellow workers, with people we meet 
in stores, and, of course, with the government. It takes a good deal 
of maturity to be able to set all this anger aside and carry on with 
your daily work. 

Charles M. Schulz, Peanuts Jubilee: My Life and Art with Charlie Brown and Others 
(New York: Holt, Rinehart and Winston, 1975), 81-DO. 

£5ut a Comic Strip 
Has to Grow 

D rawing a daily comic strip is not unlike having an English 
theme hanging over your head every day for the rest of 
your life. I was never very good at writing those English 
themes in high school, and I usually put them off until the last min- 
ute. The only thing that saves me in trying to keep up with a comic 
strip schedule is the fact that it is quite a bit more enjoyable. 

I am really a comic strip fanatic and always have been. When I 
was growing up in St. Paul, Minnesota, we subscribed to both local 
newspapers and always made sure that we went to the drugstore on 
Saturday night to buy the Minneapolis Sunday papers so that we 
would be able to read every comic published in the area. At that time, 
I was a great fan of Buck Rogers, Popeye, and Skippy. 

After high school, I had a job delivering packages around the 
downtown St. Paul area, and I used to enjoy walking by the windows 
of the St. Paul Pioneer Press and watching the Sunday comics as they 
came rolling off the presses. It was my dream, of course, that one day 
my own comic strip would be included. 

Almost twenty years have gone by since I first began drawing 
Charlie Brown and Snoopy, and I find that I still enjoy drawing them 
as much as I ever did, but, strangely enough, one of my greatest joys 
is gaining an extra week on the schedule. I have walked away from 
the post office many times with a tremendous feeling of joy, know- 
ing that I have mailed in six strips that I thought were really good 
and that I have gained a week on that oppressive schedule. 


But a Comic Strip Has to Grow 


During these twenty years, I have had the opportunity to 
observe what makes a good comic strip. I am convinced that the 
ones that have survived and maintained a high degree of quality are 
those which have a format that allows the creator room to express 
every idea that comes to him. A comic strip should have a very broad 
keyboard and should certainly not be a one- or two-note affair. If you 
are going to survive, you simply have to make use of every thought 
and every experience which have come to you. 

A comic strip also has to grow. The only way you can stay ahead of 
your imitators is to search out new territories. Also, what is funny in 
a comic strip today will not necessarily be funny the following week. 
A good example of this is the character of Snoopy. The mere fact that 
we could read Snoopy’s thoughts was funny in itself when Peanuts 
first began. Now, of course, it is the content of those thoughts that 
is important, and as he progresses in his imagination to new person- 
alities, some of the things which he originally did as an ordinary dog 
would no longer be funny. Snoopy’s personality in the strip has to 
be watched very carefully, for it can get away from me. Control over 
such a character requires a certain degree of common sense. I also 
believe that a comic strip, like a novel, should introduce the reader to 
new areas of thought and endeavor; these areas should be treated in 
an authentic manner. I never draw about anything unless I feel that 
I have a better than average knowledge of my subject. This does not 
mean that I am an expert on Beethoven, kite-flying, or psychiatry, 
but it means that as a creative person, I have the ability to skim the 
surface of such subjects and use just what I need. 

Many times people come up to me and tell me how much they 
appreciate the philosophy of Peanuts. This never fails to confuse 
me, for I really do not know what this philosophy is. It has always 
seemed to me that the strip has a rather bitter feeling to it, and it 
certainly deals in defeat. It has given me the opportunity to express 
many of my own thoughts about life and people. It is my own opin- 
ion that is absolutely necessary for each one of us to strive to gain 
emotional maturity. Unless a person becomes mature in all things, 
he will always have fears and anxieties plaguing him. It is interesting 

(X tvtfC 



My ar T 

to put these adult fears into the conversations of the children in Pea- 
nuts. The passage of time is an area that will almost always show up 
a person’s immaturity. Children have a strange attitude toward time, 
for they do not have the patience to wait for days to pass. They want 
what they want immediately, and adults who are incapable of learn- 
ing to wait for things will find themselves in all sorts of trouble. 

It is also immature not to be able to realize that things that 
are going to happen in the future are quite often inevitable. If chil- 
dren are allowed to do so, they will put off almost anything, merely 
because it is in the future; of course, adults will do the same. 

I am asked quite frequently to attempt to analyze each of the 
characters in the strip, but I find myself incapable of doing this. I 
really cannot talk about Charlie Brown, Linus, or Lucy as individu- 
als. I can draw them, and I can think of things for them to do, but I 
do not talk well about them. 

One thing that does interest me, however, is the set of offstage 
characters I have gradually accumulated. A reader once wrote to me 
and gave a fairly good description of what he thought Peppermint 
Patty’s father must be like. This offstage parent refers to his daugh- 
ter as a “rare gem,” and apparently tolerates her tomboyishness quite 
well. The reader speculated that the father has either divorced his 
wife or perhaps she has died. I have treated Charlie Brown’s father 
in a fair amount of detail, because I have let it be known that he is 
very receptive to his son’s impromptu visits to the barber shop. Most 
of this is autobiographical, for my dad always greeted me cordially 
when I would drop in at his barbershop, and I used to go there and 
sit and read the newspapers and magazines until he closed his shop 
in the evening. He also never objected if I rang the NO SALE button 
on the cash register and removed a nickel for a candy bar. 

Linus’s mother seems to be the peculiar one. As Charlie Brown 
once remarked, “I am beginning to understand why you drag that 
blanket around.” She seems to be obsessed with his doing well in 
school, and tries to spur him on by sneaking notes into his lunch 
which read, “Study hard today. Your father and I are very proud of 
you and want you to get a good education.” 

But a Comic Strip Has to Grow 


Some of the offstage characters reach a point where they could 
never be drawn. I think the little redheaded girl is a lot like the inside 
of Snoopy’s doghouse. Each of us can imagine what she must look 
like much better than I could ever draw her, and I am sure that every 
reader sees a different doghouse interior and would be a little disap- 
pointed if I were to attempt to draw it in detail. 

Linus’s beloved Miss Othmar, his teacher, is a rather strange per- 
son, and I have tried to do much with her through the conversation 
of Linus. I have experimented with a two-level story line at times. I 
have tried to show Linus’s view of what is happening at school, but 
then show what actually was occurring. I have done this to bring out 
a truth I have observed, and this is that children see more than we 
think they do, but at the same time almost never seem to know what 
is going on. This is an interesting paradox, and one with which adults 
should try to acquaint themselves, if they are going to deal well with 

I am very proud of the comic strip medium and am never 
ashamed to admit that I draw a comic strip. I do not regard it as great 
art, but I have always felt it is certainly on the level with other enter- 
tainment mediums which are part of the so-called “popular arts.” 
In many ways, I do not think we have realized the potential of the 
comic strip, but sometimes I feel it is too late. Many regard the comic 
page as a necessary evil and a nuisance, but it is there and it helps 
sell newspapers. With a little more tolerance and with a little more 
dedication on the part of those who create the comics, perhaps we 
could do better. I look back upon great features such as Out Our Way , 
and I feel that perhaps we can never recapture some of that glory. I 
really shudder when I read a description of a new feature about to 
be launched by some syndicate and they refer to it as “off-beat.” It is 
time we have some new features which are “on-beat,” and which are 
about real people doing real things. 

Charles M. Schulz, “But a Comic Strip Has to Grow,” Saturday Review, April 12, 1969, 

What Do You Do with a 
Dog That Doesn’t Talk? 

C omic-strip characters, I have noticed after 30 years of draw- 
ing Peanuts, come and go quickly. Some work better than 
others. Some don’t work at all. Some, like Snoopy, are so 
strong that they tend, if you let them, to take over the strip. Others, 
like Frieda, with the naturally curly hair, drop by the wayside, either 
because they do not inspire enough things that are funny, or because 
the artist has outgrown them. But the turnover is still nowhere near 
as great, I’m happy to be able to say, as it is with the characters in 
your average television series. 

Television is a tyrannical kind of medium. Even when you are 
making an animated cartoon out of my characters, as Bill Melendez 

and I have been doing for more 
than 15 years now. You don’t have 
a captive audience the way you do 
in a movie or play. In TV, you’re 
at the mercy of some guy in a 
chair. You can’t try the show out 
in New Haven, then write a new 
second act. If the viewer doesn’t 
instantly like what he sees, it’s 
zap! off with your head while he 
tunes in something else. There’s 
no way you can say to him, “Hey, 



My ar T 

wait, there’s this great number coming up in a minute.” You have to 
grab ’em right now. 

This is difficult because the grabbiest characters I have are not 
necessarily the ones that work best on television. Snoopy doesn’t 
even talk. In the strip he communicates by means of thought bal- 
loons. Woodstock merely peeps. One has to imagine what he is actu- 
ally saying. As much as I love pantomime, it severely limits what you 
can do in film with two of the characters who are mainstays of the 
strip. All that poetry, Snoopy philosophizing on top of the doghouse, 
Woodstock dreaming impossible dreams, etc., doesn’t sustain itself 
in film, even if you could figure out how to do it. In its place we all 
too often substitute action: a boat race, a figure-skating competi- 
tion, a spelling bee, complete with conventional bad guys. That’s fine 
except the story tends to fall into cliche. But it gives new impetus to 
the characters who can talk. And it makes a star all over again out of 
Charlie Brown. 

Charlie Brown is indeed one of the good guys, which for a 
comic strip is just right. Some comic-strip heroes survive simply by 
being what they are. That’s Charlie Brown. Others by being quot- 
able. Thurber characters do that. People remember things said in 
Thurber cartoons from 25 years ago. Can anybody remember any- 
thing Mickey Mouse ever said? Mickey and Charlie Brown survived 
by merely being there. 

This is largely true of all comic-strip heroes. Invariably they 
are small and put-upon, and they never get to say the funny things 
themselves. Pogo was a likable little possum. Mickey was a kind of 
elder-statesman Mouse. Charlie Brown, for all his nagging insecuri- 
ties, was and is the voice of reason, really very low-key in relation to 
the others. Yet he holds the whole thing together. 

Another thing I find bothersome about television is that it dic- 
tates what you can and can’t do. A novel allows time to dig beneath 
the surface and develop character. A comic strip, strangely enough, 
affords a similar luxury: even though it takes only 16 seconds a day 
to read, cumulatively it goes on forever. Big changes naturally evolve 

What Do You Do With a Dog That Doesn't Talk? 


over the years. Snoopy, for example, was just a cuddly puppy of the 
most conventional sort when Peanuts began. When he got up on the 
doghouse and began to fantasize, he became something very differ- 
ent. In television it is difficult even to carry on a conversation, let 
alone philosophize. 

Not that it can’t be challenging. Really nice moments happen. 
I remember how I agonized over the spelling-bee show. In the end 
Charlie Brown loses and is so depressed that he goes to bed, swear- 
ing that he will never get up and play baseball again. A flat ending. 
I needed something. I thought about it a long time. Then it hit me. 
Linus opens the door and asks to come in. “I don’t care what you do,” 
says Charlie Brown glumly. 

“So you feel bad about the spelling bee? Let everybody down, 
did you? But did you notice, Charlie Brown, the world didn’t come 
to an end?” says Linus. So Charlie Brown gets up, gets dressed, goes 
out, and everybody is playing marbles and the world is going on. I 
liked it. 

The problem in television is one of translation, making it work in 
another medium. Whatever you do, you put a lot of yourself into it. 
For instance, my children are growing up and moving away and I find 
myself missing them and wishing they’d stay closer to home. This 
leads to the gloomy thought that I am growing older. I instinctively 
know this idea is going to find its way into the strip. But how? 

I decide it will be funny to have Lucy complain about getting old. 
It will also ease my own fears about it. Or at least give them voice. 
But I have to find just the right person for Lucy to complain to. It 
turns out to be Schroeder. So I have Lucy peer soulfully up at him, 
sitting at his piano playing Beethoven, as disdainful of girls as ever. 

“Will you love me when I’m old and crabby?” she demands. 

“I don’t love you now so how can I love you then?” he replies 
without missing a note. 

That idea makes for a strip. I may get four or five more on the 
same theme. Or I may get none. Or I may have to throw one away, as 
I did in this particular case. It showed Lucy fiercely resisting, simply 


My ar T 

refusing to grow old. A funny notion, I thought. But for some reason 
it was flat; it didn’t express what was happening. So I mentally file it 
away and go on to another or the next. 

People speculate that I am Charlie Brown. Well, maybe. But only 
in the sense that all my characters reflect some aspect of me. Charlie 
Brown is the gentle, accepting part, a “loser” in name only. Lucy is 
the part that’s capable of saying mean, sarcastic things. Lucy could 
not be a male. When she says, “Hey, stupid Beagle!” or pulls the foot- 
ball on Charlie Brown, we can accept it from a little girl. It’s nice to 
have someone who can do that; there’s not much meanness in the 
strip. Yet Lucy has her soft, vulnerable side. When Lucy’s world goes 
sour and Linus tells her, “You still have a little brother who loves 
you,” she breaks down and cries. 

Linus, my serious side, is the house intellectual, bright, well- 
informed — which, I suppose, may contribute to his feelings of inse- 
curity. He lets himself be bamboozled by Lucy. In recent years I have 
drifted away from the whole business of Linus’s blanket. Maybe 
because my children have grown older — and no longer need it. Other 
characters — Peppermint Patty, Marcie, Sally, Woodstock — seem to 
have persuaded him. 

Peppermint Patty, the tomboy, is forthright, doggedly loyal, 
with a devastating singleness of purpose, the part of us that goes 
through life with blinders on. This can be wonderful at times but 
also disastrous. Patty was never very smart. Then one day Marcie 
appeared. Marcie is devoted to her, calls her “Sir” and doesn’t mind 
following her around, which is deceptive. Marcie is one-up on Patty 
in every way. She sees the truth of things, where it invariably escapes 
Patty. I like Marcie. 

Schroeder? Well, in the first year I needed a baby. My own chil- 
dren were very small. I’d just bought a toy piano for my daughter 
Meredith. He had to do something so I had him grow up quickly and 
play Beethoven. Out of this came the business of Lucy lounging on 
the piano. This is a parody of women falling for musicians, and your 
old Aunt who warned, “Never fall in love with a trumpet player.” 

What Do You Do With a Dog That Doesn't Talk? 


Schroeder invariably rejects Lucy. The more he does, the more pas- 
sionate her ardor. 

Sally, on the other hand, is the complete pragmatist. I person- 
ally do not like her; she is rude to her big brother Charlie. I could 
easily become angry with her. Yet there is a certain charm when she 
fractures the language: “By golly, if any centimeters come in this 
room, I’ll step on them!” 

Molly Volley is at once an off-shoot of my own recent involve- 
ment in tennis and a caricature of human behavior on the court. She 
is one tough cookie who embodies the widely held American belief 
that the only thing that matters is winning. Molly doesn’t actually 
cheat; she just shades the call a little. She doesn’t fly her private jet 
to the tournament the way golfer Arnold Palmer does. You think 
champions are made at Wimbledon? They’re made out there on 
some remote, windswept, backcountry tournament where nobody’s 
watching and nobody cares. Charlie Brown is appalled by her con- 
duct. I can empathize with her. 

Spike, Snoopy’s brother, is a beautiful example of images evoked 
by a location: we know he lives with the coyotes outside Needles, and 
that’s about all we know. There is about him, with his thin, faintly 
exotic mustache and soulful eyes, an air of mystery that is totally 
foreign to what Snoopy is. Our imagination takes over. 

Not so with Snoopy. Snoopy’s rich fantasy life is all too specific. 
He becomes the Famous Author or World War I Flying Ace in his 
Sopwith Camel cursing the Red Baron and not really treating Charlie 
Brown, who feeds him every night, very well. Snoopy has gone way 
beyond Charlie Brown. Only Woodstock can really keep up. 

Woodstock came out of nowhere. Originally he was not a male. 
He was one of two undifferentiated little birdies born in a nest on 
the top of Snoopy’s stomach. The sequence involved Snoopy’s worry 
about how long they would have to remain there. Even when they 
start to learn to fly, they flutter unsteadily back into the nest. 

Well, somehow Woodstock, as yet unnamed, seemed to want 
to stick around. He became Snoopy’s secretary, presumably female. 


My ar T 

Then, when it came time to name “her,” it seemed better that she be 
a he. He became Woodstock, after the festival. 

Woodstock suggests something else to me. Next to, say, the 
majestic flight of the wild geese flying overhead when he and Snoopy 
go camping, Woodstock knows that he is very small and inconse- 
quential indeed. It’s a problem we all have. The universe boggles us. 
In the larger scheme, we suddenly realize, we amount to very little. 
It’s frightening. Only a certain maturity will make us able to cope. 
The minute we abandon the quest for it we leave ourselves open to 
tragic results. Woodstock is a lighthearted expression of that idea. 

As I said earlier, the strip is the mother lode. My reservations 
about television are that all too little of this kind of low-key poetry 
finds its way into the script. In television we tend to settle for the 
easy way out. It’s like Linus explaining to Charlie Brown that when a 
kid gets to be 18 it’s time for him to leave home. 

“Even if it’s a Sunday?” Charlie Brown says. 

Television, too, will have to grow up. Even if it’s a Sunday. 

Charles M. Schulz, “What Do You Do with a Dog That Doesn’t Talk?” TV Guide, 
February 23, 1980, 22-24. 

This page intentionally left blank 


This page intentionally left blank 

Faie Horse, Faie Rider 
by Katherine Anne For ter 

Seven young men took part in the assassination plot that destroyed 
the life of the Archduke Ferdinand, and hurled the nations into the 
monstrous conflict we call World War I. All seven of these young 
men were ill with tuberculosis. It has been said that fever has a way 
of coloring one’s view, and in their case it helped drive them toward 
what they believed to be an heroic end. Another disease brought 
fever and death to millions of people by the time the great conflict 
was over, for an epidemic of influenza went around the world taking 
its toll from all classes, races, and ages. The origin of the 1918 pan- 
demic of influenza is shrouded in obscurity. Some medical authori- 
ties doubt that a single starting point ever existed. As early as 1916- 
1917 numerous cases of “purulent bronchitis” were observed among 
the British troops at a base in France. This outbreak was considered 
to be somewhat dependent on the exceptionally cold weather of that 
period. The earliest recorded outbreak in the United States seems to 
have been at Camp Funston in Kansas, although the general belief 
was that it had started in Boston and worked its way across the 
country. The last-arriving American troops in France quickly spread 
the disease through the A.E.F. The troopship Leviathan docked on a 
particular day at Brest with ten thousand men aboard, four thou- 
sand of them stricken. At Camp Pontanezen in France, out of sixty- 
five thousand soldiers, twelve thousand were down with the flu at 
the same time. Americans in this camp were dying at the rate of two 




hundred and fifty per day. By the time the epidemic was over in 1919, 
twenty million people in all parts of the world had died following 
influenza infection. 

In Pale Horse, Pale Rider twenty-four year old Miranda, writer for 
a newspaper, becomes aware of a “burning slow headache” as she is 
taking her morning bath. She remembers “she had waked up with it 
and it had in fact begun the evening before.” Fever colors Miranda’s 
view of the next few days, and we are presented also with a series 
of her dreams which serve in a remarkable way to take us along the 
paths of torment she is to suffer. 

Although Miranda and Adam, the soldier in the story, refer to 
them as part of an old negro hymn, the pale horse and the pale 
rider in the novel are the figures mentioned in the Sixth Chapter of 
the Book of Revelations. “When he opened the fourth seal, I heard 
the voice of the fourth living creature say, ‘Come!’ And I saw, and 
behold, a pale horse, and its rider’s name was Death, and Hades fol- 
lowed him, and they were given power over a fourth of the earth, 
to kill with sword and with famine and with pestilence and by wild 
beasts of the earth.” This rider brings not meaningless destruction, 
but destruction which serves the purpose of the justice of God. He 
is what we might call a divine administrator. One quarter of the 
earth is to feel his power so that the remainder might witness the 
events and thus be led to repent. In the Goodspeed translation of 
the New Testament the horse is described as being the “color of 
ashes.” Moffatt claims it is “livid.” Other translations call it “green- 
ish yellow” which may account for the description of the stranger in 
the first dream in the opening passages of the novel. 

In this dream, Miranda is in her room in the great farm house 
where she grew up. She is anxious to arise before the rest of the fam- 
ily in order to avoid entanglements which are only hinted at. She is 
aware of Death, “that lank greenish stranger” who hangs about the 
place, and she chooses to try to outrun him on horseback. The dream 
takes on nightmarish qualities as the stranger rides easily alongside 
her regarding her with a stare that indicates he can bide his time. She 

Pale Horse, Pale Rider, Katherine Anne Porter 


awakes as she shouts to him to ride on. “She is not going with him 
this time!” This is a dream of ill omen, and it suggests some of the 
troubles to come. 

Most of the action in the novel takes place between the first and 
second dreams. Miranda is finding it difficult to cope with the prob- 
lems faced by women during wartime. She lives on a very meager sal- 
ary, and is pestered by committeemen who insist that she dedicate 
a portion of that salary towards the purchase of a Liberty bond. She 
has become very fond of a young officer named Adam who is from 
Texas. Like all soldiers he is living an intermission, and rather enjoys 
speculating about his chances of surviving in combat. For Adam, 
who is on leave, the days are free of responsibility, but for Miranda 
everything seems terribly wrong. They go for many walks together, 
and on one of these walks they view three different funerals passing 
by. Miranda begins to feel only “half awake.” The disease that has 
moved around the world has descended upon her. “She wanted to 
say, Adam, come out of your dream and listen to me. I have pains in 
my chest and my head and my heart and they’re real. I am in pain all 
over, and you are in such danger as I can’t bear to think about, and 
why can we not save each other?”’ 

Miranda’s second dream gives us an indication of the extent of 
her illness. She dreams of being in the cold mountains in the snow. 
This changes suddenly to a desire for warmth, and then the peaceful 
scenes of all the rivers she had ever known. But this is interrupted by 
the sight of a tall sailing ship with a gangplank running down to the 
foot of her bed. A slight sense of fear creeps over her as she notices a 
jungle behind the ship. Nevertheless, she runs down the gangplank, 
boards the ship, and is able to observe herself lying in bed. She sails 
off into the jungle, and is finally awakened by jungle noises which 
turn into words that cry, “danger, danger, danger” and “war, war, 
war.” Adam and her landlady are arguing about Miranda’s remaining 
in the apartment. 

Adam risks his own health by staying to care for her. This 
accounts partially for his entering her dreams for the first time in 



her third recorded dream. She is in a small green wood that con- 
tains “inhuman concealed voices singing sharply like the whine of 
arrows.” She sees Adam struck by these “singing arrows.” He falls 
back, rises unwounded, is struck again and rises unwounded once 
more. Miranda attempts to block the flight of arrows with her own 
body, and as they pass through her heart, they continue on through 
his body. This third time he falls, but does not rise. She awakens 
screaming, and we have learned of the great depth of her feelings for 

Her fourth dream is full of hospital images. Whiteness and 
silence, tall shadows moving behind a wide screen of sheets spread 
upon a frame, dark figures bowing, speechless figures in white, and 
a pallid white fog floating before her eyes. The seriousness of her 
illness is brought out by the torment of her dreams as it continues 
with the image of two white-clad executioners “pushing between 
them with marvelously deft and practical hands” a helpless old man 
who pleads for his life. The one doctor whom she met before being 
taken away in the ambulance, Dr. Hildesheim, becomes a hideous 
figure, a skull beneath a German helmet, and he is carrying an infant 
impaled on a bayonet which he throws into a well along with a pot 
of poison. The well is one she remembers from her father’s farm, and 
again she awakens screaming. 

She is now delirious when awake, and sees the nurse’s hands as 
white tarantulas. 

The fifth and final dream moves her closer toward death. Her 
internal torment is made up of words like “oblivion,” eternity,” and 
a “pit that is bottomless.” Images of childhood are recalled to help 
turn away the call of death. Then, a stubborn will to live enters her 
dream. She is taken to a landscape of sea and sand. A great company 
of human beings, all the living she has ever known, comes toward 
her. She moves among them in a great “quietude of her ecstasy.” Sud- 
denly, a tremor of apprehension is felt. She has lost something, but 
she doesn’t know what it is. “We have forgotten the dead, oh, the 

Pale Horse, Pale Rider, Katherine Anne Porter 


dead, where are they?” This time she awakens with the smell of death 
in her own body. 

Miranda lives. One morning she finds herself waking from a 
dreamless sleep to hear the sound of bells, horns, and whistles. The 
war is over! There were no radios to spread the news. It got around 
slowly, but gradually spread along the Eastern seaboard and then 
westward. President Wilson issued the statement: “The Armistice 
was signed this morning. Everything for which America fought has 
been accomplished. It will now be our fortunate duty to assist by 
example.” Miranda goes through the mail that has accumulated by 
her beside during her month’s stay in the hospital, and finds a letter 
from a friend of Adam informing her that Adam has died of influ- 
enza while in camp. The pale rider has done his work. 

Unpublished typescript dated May 24, 1965. 

This page intentionally left blank 

A Poem for Jeannie 

You hurried by 
and caught my eye 
And love sat near 

“My name is Jeannie” 

“I’m so glad that you like me” 
And the square at Ghirardelli 
and love moved closer 

Can two people kiss 

In the sun among the crowd 
While others pay no mind 
and love moves closer? 

You hurried by 
and caught my eye 
And love joined us forever. 


This page intentionally left blank 



Abel, Robert H., Ill 
Amsterdam, Netherlands, 47 
Anderson, Indiana, 120 
Art Instruction Schools, Inc., 12, 14, 
15-17, 86, 91, Vl y 148 
Art of Walt Disney, The, 9 


Baltes, Roman, 14-15, 16 
Barney Google, 114 
Bartlett’s Quotations, 136 
Basel, Switzerland, 47 
Baxter, Anne, 152 
Beattie, Bruce, 126 

Beethoven, Ludwig van, 46, 82, 154-55, 
165, 173, 174 
Beetle Bailey, 133 
Berg, Patty, 41 

Berkeley. See University of California 
at Berkeley 
Berlioz, Hector, 18 
Bible, 21, 35 Book of John, 30-31; 

Philippians, 25; Romans, 26 
Big Little Book, 6 
Bon Voyage, Charlie Brown, 58 
Boston University’s Communication 
Research Center, 111 
Boucher, Connie, 117 

Boucher, John, 117 
Boy Named Charlie Brown, A, 33 
Brahms, Johannes, 155 
Briggs, Clare, 6 
Bringing Up Father, 114 
British Honduras, 27 
Brown, Charlie, 15 
Buck Rogers, 164 
Burton, Richard, 58-S9 
Bushmiller, Ernie, 133 


California, 36, 41, 91, 153 

Camp Campbell, Kentucky, 12, 13 

Canada, 44 

Caniff, Milton, 6 

Capp, Al, 6, 115, 133, 139 

Captain Easy, 6, 115 

Caribbean, 27 

Casals, Rosie, 44 

Cathy, 64 

Charlie Brown, 8, 11, 13, 15, 19, 20, 2? 
32, 35, 50, 58, 60, 4, 82, 83, 93, 94, 
95, 97, 99, 116, 117, 121, 136, 137 142, 
147-49, 151, 153-54, 157 158, 160-61, 
164, 168, 172-76 
Chateau Malvoisin, 57-58 
Chicago, Illinois, 17, 32 
Chicago Sun, 17 




Chicago Tribune, 130 
Christmas, 30, 37-4), 47, 134, 138 
Cleveland, Ohio, 18 
Colorado Springs, Colorado, 91 
“Comics as Non-Art, The,” 115 
Comics Council, 111 
Commander of Arts and Letters 
Award, 57 

Crane, Roy, 6, 115, 132-33 
Creative Associates, 90 
Creative Developments, 33 
Crosby, Kathy, 68 
Crosby, Percy, 133, 158 
Crosby Pro-Am, 47, 67-68 
Czechoslovakia, 44 


Dachau, Germany, 20 

Dayton, Ohio, 99 

D-day, 134-35 

Delgado, Evelyn, 90 

Determined Productions, 117 

Dick Tracy, 129 

Dille, John, Jr., 17 

Dinah Shore golf tournament, 127 

Disney, Walt, 6, 85 

Ditzen, Walt, 17, 32 

Dodger Stadium, 53 

Doge, Mary M., 71 

Donald Duck, 85 


Eakins, Thomas, 27 
Eisenhower, Dwight D., 135 
Emmy Awards, 126 


Federal Schools. See Art Instruction 
Schools, Inc. 

Finland, 44 

Fitzgerald, F. Scott, 72, 136 

For Better or For Worse, 64 

Ford Motor Company, 102, 117-20 

Fort Snelling, Minnesota, 12 

Free Press of Glencoe, 111 

Freeman, Jim, 18, 115, 131 

Frieda, 15, 157 171 

Funnies: An American Idiom, The, 111 


Gauvreau, Emilie, 71-'/2 
Gilburt, Harry, 116 
Gillespie, Sarah, 131, 136 
Gospel According to Peanuts, The, 159, 

Gospel Trumpet, 120 
Grand Canyon, 97 
Great Gatsby, The, 72 
Gretzky, Wayne, 51 


Hallmark Cards, 120 
Hans Brinker, 71 

Happiness Is a Warm Puppy, 24-25, 117 
“happiness is a warm puppy,” 3 
Harold in Italy, 18 
Harry, 11 

Hayward, Susan, 152 
Hennessy, Jim, 116, 117, 121 
Highland Park, 10, 67, 148 
Holland, 71 

Hollywood, California, 109, 160 
Holt, Rinehart, and Winston, 117 
Hurd, Jud, 32, 36 


J. Walter Thompson Company, 117 
Japan, 20, 44 



Jeopardy, 64 

Jesus Christ, 21, 21-25, 30, 138 
Joe Cool, 64, 155 
Jones, Bobby, 10, 67 
Jose Peterson, 148 
“Just Keep Laughing,” 16 


Kelly, Walt, 115 
King, Billie Jean, 44 
Knight, Tack, 116 
Krazy Kat, 6, 114 


Lee Mendelson Film Productions, 121 
Li’l Abner, 133 
LiT Folks, 17, 116 

Linus, 15, 20, 25, 25, 27, 30, 53, 82, 
97-99, BO, 135, B8, 147, 148, 155-57 
160, 161, 168, 169, 173, 174 
Little red-headed girl, 157 169 
Lockhart, Warren, 33, 90 
London, England, 47 
Lost Patrol, The, 6 
Louvre, 57 

Lucy, 26, 27 51, 82, 83, 94, 9-99, 16, 
117, 147, 148, 153, 156, 168, 173, 
Luke, 30 
Lytle, Pat, 90 


Maddocks School, 10 

Marcie, 94, 134, 135, 136, 149, 174 

Marich, Peter, 67 

Maurer, Linus, 148 

Maxims, 57 

Mays, Willie, 121 

McLaglen, Victor, 6 

Melendez, Bill, 33, 138, 171 
Mendelson, Lee, 33, Bl, 138 
MetLife, 68 

Mickey Mouse, 6, 85, 172 
Miller, Johnny, 68 
Minneapolis, Minnesota, 8, 12, 15, 
18-19, 65, 85, 86, 91, 27 130, 164 
Minneapolis Symphony, 65 
Miss Othmar, 161-62, 159 
Molly Volley, 175 
Monterey, California, 67 
Monterey Peninsula Country Club, 67 
Moon Mullins, 114 
Munich, Germany, 20 
Mutts, 64 

My Last Million Readers, 71 -12 


National Cartoonists Society, 131 
National Newspaper Syndicate, 17 
NEA, 18 

Needles, California, 5, 58, 175 

Nelson, Ron, 90 

New Haven, Connecticut, 171 

New Testament, 162 

New York, 18, 87 97, 100, 109, 111 

New Yorker, The, 64 

Newspaper Comics Council Inc., Ill 

Normandy, France, 47 

Northern Exposure, 64 


Oklahoma, 98 
Old Testament, 162 
Omaha Beach, France, 47, 134, 136 
Out Our Way, 169 


Pale Horse, Pale Rider, 61-64, 181-85 



Palmer, Arnold, 175 
Paris, France, 57 135 
Park Theater, 150 
Paro, Minette, 7 
Paul, 27 

Peabody Award, 126 
Peanuts, 3, 7 9, 14, 26, 32, 35, 46, 5,758, 
59, 60, 83, 85, 86, 91, 95, 96,00-2, 
116, 117, 120, 121, 129, 134, 139, 142, 
147-51, M, 157-58, £0-62, 165, 
168, 171, 173 
Peanuts Datebook, 117 
Pebble Beach, California, 67, 68 
Peppermint Patty, 16, 52, 61, 94, 134, 
135, 148-49, 174 
Perelman, S. J., 125 
Peter, 30-31 
Picasso, Pablo, 46, 138 
Playboy, 139 

“Poem for Jeannie, A,” 187 

Pogo, 133, 172 

Polking, Kirk, 116 

Polly and Her Pals, 114 

Popeye, 6, 85, 1H, 164 

Poppy Hills Golf Course, 68 

Porter, Katherine Anne, 61-64, 181-85 

Puerta Vallarta, Mexico, 58 


Reagan, Ronald, 153 
Red Baron. See Snoopy 
Redwood City, California, 98 
Redwood Empire Ice Arena, 33 
Remagen, Germany, 47 
Rembrandt, 155 
Reuben Awards, 126 
Rhine, the, 47 
Robinson, Edward J., 114 
Rogers, Buck, 6 

Rommel, Erwin, 134-35 
Rose, Carl, 35 
Rose Is Rose, 64 
Rosebud, 35 

Rouen, France, 47, 57-58 
Rutman, Larry, 116, 117, 131 


Sacramento, California, 5 
Saint Mary’s College, 26 
Saint Stephen, 27 

Sally, 50, 52-53, a, 99, 100, 152-53, 

San Francisco, California, 117 
Santa Rosa, California, 89, 126, 127 
Saturday Evening Post, 16, 86, 116, 142 
Schroeder, 16, 51-2, 82, 83, 94, 17, 
148, 154-55, £8-50, 173, 174-75 
Schulz, Amy, 154, 156 
Schulz, Carl, 5-6, 8, 12-13, 58, 85, 

91, 168 

Schulz, Craig, 155, 156 
Schulz, Dena, 5, 8, 12, 20 
Schulz, Jeannie, 61, 64, 187 
Schulz, Jill, 154, 156 
Schulz, Meredith, 148, 154, 174 
Schulz, Monte, 152-53, £5 
Sea of Tiberius, 30 
Sebastopol, California, 21 
“security blanket,” 3, 121 
Seldes, Gilbert, 114 
Seven Dwarfs, 9 
Shakespeare, William, 155 
Shapiro, Arnold, 120 
Sherlock Holmes, 6 
Shermy, 7 

Short, Robert, 35, 159, 162 
Silas Marner, 39-40 
Skippy, 158, 164 



Sladky, Judy, 134 
Sniffy, 9 

Snoopy, 3, 8-9, 25, 32, 35, 4-45, 5768, 
82, 94, 121, 123, 124, 134, 135, 147, 
149-50, 155, 157 158-60, 164, 165, 
169, 171-13, 175, 176 
Snoopy Come Home, 33 
Sop with Camels, 26, 155, 175 
Spike, 8-9, 58, 175 

St. Paul, Minnesota, 5, 8, 9-D, 12, 13, 
17, 18, 20-21, 37-39, 1^ 47, 58, 67, 85, 
86, 130, 148, 150, 164 
St. Paul Central High School, 7 
St. Paul Pioneer Press, 8, 17, 164 
Stockton, California, 98 
Strauss, Johann, II, 154 


Taylor, Elizabeth, 58-S9 
“Three Little Pigs, The,” 6, 85 
Thurber, James, 172 
Tim Tylers Luck, 6 
Timeless Topix, 14-15, 16 
Tolstoy, Leo, 136 
Turner, Janine, 64 
20th Armored Division, 20 
Twin Cities, Minnesota, 5, 12, 13 


United Feature Syndicate, 18-19, 35, 
86, 100, 116-17, 120, 129 
United Media, 127 
United States Hockey League, 41 
University of California at Berkeley, 98 
University of Minnesota, 153 

Wash Tubbs, 6 

Watterson, Bill, 138 

West Orange, New Jersey, 99 

White, David Manning, 111, 14 

“Who Reads the Funnies and Why,” 114 

Wichita, Kansas, 41 

Williams, Hank, 156-57 

Williams, J. R., 6 

Wilwerding, Walter J., 15, 129 

Wimbledon, 47, 175 

Wimpy, 6 

Wing, Frank, 15, 17, 129 

Woodstock, 160, 172 

World War 1, 155, 175 

World War II, 6, 13, 14, 21, 4, 57 61, 

86, 108 

Writer's Yearbook, 116 
Wyeth, Andrew, 138 


Yankee Stadium, 53 
“Yesterdays,” 15 
Yosemite Sam, 138 
Young, Faron, 157 

You’re a Good Man, Charlie Brown, 138 
Youth, 120 


Wade, Virginia, 44 
Walker, Mort, 133